Published (in Sweden): September 22, 2011
Expected Publication (in USA): July 12, 2016
This novel brought to mind The Stranger by Albert Camus, a novel I read back in high school, due to the absurdity of the premise and the situation of the protagonist. The Invoice is not nearly as dark and in fact this novel has everything to do with happiness. The protagonist is a 39-year-old single male living in Sweden who works part-time in a video store. His only friend, Roger, seems to be pretty miserable. He has a sister who seems overrun with her family life. His parents are deceased. Yet, he receives an invoice stating he owes a ridiculous sum of money for his assessed happiness. Through his investigations into the reasons why he owes so much money which is primarily through the woman he reaches at the call-in center, Maud, it is revealed that calculations were mistaken and the amount he owes keeps increasing. It seems incredible to him that he could owe so much working a dead-end job, having very little actual life experience, and no money to speak of. In the end, he realizes just how lucky he his that he is able to experience happiness with the simple things in life where others do not. He ultimately finds that the ridiculous sum of money they wanted to charge him does not come close to the amount he should owe for all of the happiness he has in his life. I enjoyed this philosophical, satirical novel that seems light-hearted and deep both at once. It is a novel that makes you think about happiness, the roots of happiness, what it means to be surrounded by people who are truly happy and to be truly happy yourself. I give this novel and recommend it to everyone.
- Why do you think the protagonist is so happy?
- Do you think we could ever truly quantify a person’s happiness?
- Compare and contrast Roger and the protagonist’s perceptions of similar events.
- Explain the importance of the scene in The Bridge to this novel.
- Why do you think Maud spends so much time speaking with our protagonist on the phone?
- What do you think are the strongest components or personality traits to being a happy person?
- Do you feel happier when you are around happy people?
- In what ways is this novel a commentary on governmental regulation?