School of the Unemployed


Joachim Zelter
Schule der Arbeitslosen / School of the Unemployed
210 pages
Tübingen: Klöpfer & Meyer, 2006



A training camp in the near future. Its sole purpose: Instructing unemployed people to find work, at all costs and by all means. This involves meaningless as well as humiliating drills and procedures, very much along the lines of prison camps or re-education centres, all the more pointless, as the school is set in a future society, void of all realistic chances for individuals or collectives to find employment. The school/camp is a painful end in itself, a mindless and brutal insistence on work as a cardinal value per se, an ideological obsession of a society which fanatically clings to the notion of work as the prime purpose of life, though being dimly aware that it no longer can provide people with work. The novel, which in many ways follows the classical dystopias by Orwell and Huxley, brings latent totalitarian tendencies looming behind contemporary political discourses to its extremes. The book has been reviewed in numerous papers in Germany and also been widely discussed on TV and radio.



„An eminently important novel.“
Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung


„Frightfully topical. Zelter’s most controversial book, and stylistically his best one.”
Berliner Zeitung


„A cool description of a gloomy future world.“


„Hits into the core of German reality.“
Sonntag Aktuell


„This Orwellian utopia seems already to have become reality.”


„Highly original and full of suspense.“


„Thriller which frightens and provokes.”
Sächsische Zeitung


„A novel with which our society will have to cope with.“
Stuttgarter Nachrichten


„Satire is not the opposite of reality but its exaggeration. This has been well achieved by Joachim Zelter.”
Stuttgarter Zeitung


„A philippic. What in Orwell and Huxley appears as futurisric, in Zelter’s novel turns out to be highly realistic.”
Badische Zeitung


„Brave new job world. This negative utopia is all too likely to come true.”


“Never ever has the question what is to become of the human flotsam produced by the structural unemployment of late information capitalism, never has this question been more radically answered in literature than in Zelter’s novel.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung



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