Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.

Night Work

A Novel

by Thomas Glavinic

“[An] extraordinary apocalyptic novel . . . Glavinic creates a more subtle if no less nightmarish mood than such similar books as The Day of the Triffids and I Am Legend.” —Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

  • Imprint Canongate U.S.
  • Page Count 384
  • Publication Date November 11, 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1-8476-7184-4
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $15.00

About The Book

The routine of daily life is such that one goes to sleep with the security that tomorrow will arrive, just as it did today. Jonas wakes up one morning to discover that he is the last living being on Earth. Nothing moves outside. No cars. No people. No animals. The radio only emits white noise. The internet is down. No one answers his phone calls.

Set in Vienna at the turn of the twenty-first century, Night Work is a fast-paced, psychological thriller, exploring the darkness that lies deep within us all. Recalling classics like Kafka’s The Trial as well as contemporary novels such as Remainder by Tom McCarthy, Glavinic’s novel is a riveting story of paranoia, madness, and fear. In this world we, along with Jonas, experience the unimaginable.

In skilled, efficient prose, Night Work unsettles our notion of the human condition and the artifice of civilization, exposing our greatest fears, that no one is in charge and that something unthinkable and unjust is about to occur. Night Work is a small gem of a book, unlike any other you’ve read.

Tags Literary


“[The] talented young Austrian author Glavinic begins with a premise reminiscent of an old Twilight Zone episode . . . with a refreshingly zombie-free take on the post-apocalyptic scenario, Glavinic has come up with an intriguing hybrid of sf and existential suspense . . . the novel . . . take[s] some startling and frightening turns. Recommended for larger fiction collections and libraries looking to fill in titles on their ‘If you liked The Road, then try . . .’ bookslists.” —Library Journal

“. . . Reminiscent of Tom McCarthy’s Remainder . . . By drawing out slowly and clearly Jonas’ struggle to maintain his personality alone, Glavinic does more than just sketch out a Freudian parable about the uncanny or the division of the conscious or unconscious self—he works out a single-character horror novel, entirely isolated and insular.” —Justin Bauer, Philadelphia City Paper

“[An] extraordinary apocalyptic novel . . . Glavinic creates a more subtle if no less nightmarish mood than such similar books as The Day of the Triffids and I Am Legend.” —Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

Night Work functions both as an outstanding fictionalisation of Freud’s essay ‘The Uncanny,’ and as a superior literary thriller packed with invention and suspense.” —The Independent (U.K.)

“A taut, nerve-jangling fiction . . . Glavinic pensively unveils his terrifying narrative, peeling back layers of skin to reveal the darker gore underneath.” —The Herald

Night Work is an exhausting experience, not just because the events portrayed are harrowing—indeed, at times genuinely horrific—but because of the reader’s constant anxiety that Glavinic won’t, indeed can’t, deliver a solution to his own mystery . . . When the answer arrives, it is as implacable as the rest of this disturbing book.” —The Guardian

“Compelling . . . A meditation on the experience of being human and the essential loneliness bound up with this experience.” —Bookslut

“Terrifying . . . reminiscent of Richard Matheson’s classic I Am Legend.” —Mark Graham, Rocky Mountain News

“Part thriller and part philosophical investigation wrapped up in an intensely compelling and eerie mystery, Night Work is compulsive and exhilarating.” —FantasyBookCritic.com

“Glavinic makes Jonas’s purgatorial predicament as gripping as any thriller . . . there’s a wakefulness to the zeitgeist in the greatest of authors, and on the evidence of Night Work, Glavinic is a truly great author, not just a truly great Austrian author.” —Scotland on Sunday

“A literary tour de force.” —The Bookseller

“A wondrous, big novel about the self and others, about fear and courage, about the fragility of the everyday, which only seems to wrap itself around us so firmly, and about the uncertain border between waking and dreaming.” —Der Spiegel

“Glavinic has created a gripping mystery—a book that leaves its readers disturbed yet happy, and full of questions.” —Focus

“One of the most thrilling novels of the year . . . a fantastic tale about the fragility of the individual.” —Nurnberger Zeitung

“Impressive . . . Writers tell stories, but writers of Glavinic’s rank create worlds in which we lose ourselves.” —Die Welt


At the bus stop he took the weekend supplement from his briefcase. Something was puzzling him. After a while he realised he was reading the same sentence over and over again without taking it in. When he looked up he saw there was no one else in sight. Not a soul or a car to be seen.

A practical joke was his first thought. Then: it must be a public holiday. Yes, that would account for it, a public holiday. Except that 4 July wasn’t a public holiday. Not in Austria, at least. He walked to the supermarket on the corner. Shut. He rested his forehead against the glass and shaded his eyes with his hands. No one there.

On his way back to the bus stop he looked round to see if the 39A was turning the corner. It wasn’t. He called Marie’s mobile. No reply, not even her recorded message. He dialed his father’s number. He didn’t answer either. He tried the office. No one picked up the phone. At that moment it occurred to him how utterly quiet everything was.

He went back to the flat and turned on the TV again. Snow. He turned on the computer. Server error. He turned on the radio. White noise. He sat down on the sofa, trying to collect his thoughts. His palms were moist.