In a windowless building in a remote part of town, the newly employed Josephine inputs an endless string of numbers into something kwn only as The Database. After a long period of joblessness, she's t inclined to question her fortune, but as the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings-the office's scarred pinkish walls take on a living quality, the drone of keyboards echoes eerily down the long halls. When one evening her husband Joseph disappears and then returns, offering explanation as to his whereabouts, her creeping unease shifts decidedly to dread. As other strange events build to a crescendo, the haunting truth about Josephine's work begins to take shape in her mind, even as something powerful is gathering its own form within her. She realizes that in order to save those she holds most dear, she must penetrate an institution whose tentacles seem to extend to every corner of the city and beyond. Both chilling and poignant, The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a vel of rare restraint and imagination. With it, Helen Phillips enters the company of Murakami, Bender, and Atwood as she twists the world we kw and shows it back to us full of meaning and wonder-lumius and new.
Helen Phillips is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award and the Italo Calvino Prize, among others. Her collection, And Yet They Were Happy, was also a finalist for the McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize, and her work has been featured on NPR's Selected Shorts and appeared in Tin House, Electric Literature, Slice, BOMB, Mississippi Review, and PEN America. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.