The Unit

Pages: 272
Subject: Fiction, Translated Fiction
Imprint: Oneworld

The Unit

Ninni Holmqvist

A chilling and gripping dystopian novel set in near-future Sweden

9781851687442 (1 Mar 2010)
RRP £8.99

The Book


'I liked The Unit very much... I know you would be riveted, as I was.' Margaret Atwood


Ninni Holmqvist's eerie dystopian novel envisions a society in the not-so-distant future where men and women deemed economically worthless are sent to a retirement community called the Unit. With lavish apartments set amongst beautiful gardens and state-of-the-art facilities, elaborate gourmet meals, and wonderful music and art, they are free of financial worries and want for nothing. It's an idyllic place, but there's a catch: the residents - known as dispensables - must donate their organs, one by one, until the final donation. When Dorrit Weger arrives at the Unit, she resigns herself to this fate, seeking only peace in her final days. But she soon falls in love, and this unexpected, improbable happiness throws the future into doubt.  

Clinical and haunting, The Unit is a modern-day classic and a spine-chilling cautionary tale about the value of human life.

Additional Information

Subject Fiction, Translated Fiction
Pages 272
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Ninni Holmqvist lives in Skåne, Sweden. She is the author of three short-story collections, including Kostym (Suit), and two novels. She also works as a translator.


'I liked The Unit very much....I know you would be riveted, as I was.'

- Margaret Atwood


- The New Yorker

‘Readers actually begin to wonder…is life better as a pampered lab bunny or as a lonely indigent? But then [Holmqvist] turns the screw, presenting a set of events so miraculous and abominable that they literally made me gasp.'

- Washington Post

"A remarkably thought-provoking novel."

- Reading Matters

"Holmqvist paces her revelations superbly and the reader is gripped by the atmosphere of slowly mounting claustrophobia."

- New Internationalist

"For a debut novel I thought it was stunning" Zoe Page

- Bookbag -

"This dystopian world is described with such exquisite balance between its luxuries and cruelties that the reader is emotionally drawn in and made to face up to often uncomfortable and challenging ethical dilemmas. I cannot recommend this novel, nor signal Holmquist's evident talent as an author strongly enough; it is an excellent book."

- What's On UK?

"Creepily profound and most provocative.”

- Kirkus Reviews

"[A] chilling, stunning debut novel … Holmqvist's fluid, mesmerizing novel offers unnerving commentary on the way society devalues artistic creation while elevating procreation, and speculation on what it would be like if that was taken to an extreme. For Orwell and Huxley fans.”

- Booklist

"The power of The Unit is its subtlety. Highly recommended.”


"An exploration of female desire, human need, and the purpose of life.”

- Publishers Weekly

"Holmqvist gives us a lesson in human nature and social engineering through a story that is spare, compelling, and all too human.”

- Psychiatric Services

"I found this one riveting from start to finish. It could happily find a place on school reading lists alongside Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four." "Chilling, humorous, poignant, thought-provoking, and immensely readable, this is perfect reading-group material which cannot fail to provoke discussion."

- New Books

"The Unit rattled me in a way few dystopian novels have … It's a story that will stick with me.”


"Beautifully haunting … This is one of the best books I've read over the past two years … Thought-provoking and emotionally-moving, The Unit is a book you'll be discussing with others long after you're done reading it.”

- Orlando Sentinel

"Compelling, chilling in spots, and at times heartbreaking.”

- Flashlight Worthy

"Holmqvist handles her dystopia with muted, subtle care…Neither satirical nor polemical, 'The Unit' manages to express a fair degree of moral outrage without ever moralizing…it has enough spooks to make it a feminist, philosophical page-turner.”

- Time Out Chicago

"Savagely dystopian … remarkably deft."

- Barnes and Noble Review

Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, this novel imagines a chilling dystopia: single, childless, midlife women are considered dispensable.”

- More Magazine

Also by this author