Magical realism and dark humour in a neo-gothic novel about a corporate reorganisation
Lute manages the sales department of a pharmaceutical company somewhere in the green heart of the Netherlands. One day he is told they are to be taken over by a large Swiss corporation. And not only that – all the staff in the department he is responsible for will be made redundant.
Everyone has to leave as quickly as possible. Lute is explicitly told to make sure that his faithful coworkers resign of their own accord. When he goes to drown his sorrows in a bar, he runs into the mysterious Lombard. This experienced interim manager knows exactly how to help him. From this moment on, things get completely out of hand. It’s not until someone loses their life that people start to question what’s happening.
The passivity of the characters is recognisable to anyone who has ever had an office job. In essence Hofland’s novel is an indictment of the dehumanisation that occurs in the corporate world, an illustration of how the drive for efficiency makes managers forget that employees are human beings.
Hofland has already demonstrated his penchant for experimenting with different genres: his debut, Lyssa, was a 19th-century costume drama and his second book, Vele vreemde vormen (Many Strange Shapes), was a detective story.
In The Cannibal, he combines the ingredients of a classic gothic novel with post-modern elements reminiscent of David Lynch and the humour of The Office. A strange, captivating and topical book.