“Hilarious, profound, and achingly true-to-life, Jonas Karlsson’s new novel explores the true nature of happiness through the eyes of hero you won’t soon forget. A passionate film buff, our hero’s life revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and movie in his treasured small space in Stockholm. When he receives an astronomical invoice from a random national bureaucratic agency, everything will tumble into madness as he calls the hotline night and day to find out why he is the recipient of the largest bill in the entire country.
What is the price of a cherished memory? How much would you pay for a beautiful summer day? How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying it back, find a way out of this mess? All these questions pull you through The Invoice and prove once again that Jonas Karlsson is simply a master of entertaining, intelligent, and life-affirming work.”
My Thoughts: Accountants, especially those working in the corporate environment, are trained to look at everything with a price tag attached with the challenge being to make sure that all of those price tags are recorded in the proper accounts. After all, everything costs something, and nothing is free. In The Invoice, Mr. Karlsson is doing nothing more than taking that philosophy and hypothesizing what would happen if we treated the entire world that way using a regular person to guide us through the discussions that would ensue as a result.
This regular person, our unnamed narrator, is absolutely charming. The entire novel is his personal reflection on his life as he tries to fight against the invoice amount he received. His life may not seem like much, especially given the price tag associated with that life. After all, his life is every warning we have ever received or given our children. His part-time job, his small apartment, his dearth of close friends, his lack of wardrobe or furniture, or anything of monetary value are not highly prized by society. However, as you discover more and more about that life and his attitudes about life in general, you understand why his invoice is so high.
The Invoice works in much the same way Marie Kondo’s tidying method works. Both are basic ideas that speak to the trend towards reevaluating our lives, understanding what makes us happy, and ignoring what society deems important. They both remind us that one’s success or happiness is not about possessions or the career advancements. It is not about being able to dine at the trendiest restaurant or even about the amount of money in your bank account. A successful life is much more than that and yet so much less.
At 208 pages, The Invoice is a very quick read in sheer number of pages. However, the story is so engaging that it quickly becomes a book you want to finish in one sitting. As the narrator progresses through his battle to amend his amount due, the discussions about the influencing factors in the algorithm that calculated his total are eye-opening but also written in such a way as to spark discussion on the definitions of happiness and success. The entire novel leaves you wondering about your own invoice. Just how high would yours be?