Underplayed is an existential novel about working within a bigger system, where certain questions should neither be asked nor answered.
“The Thorsen-case, as it had become known, was something like a joke to the rest of them, a funny thing they occasionally referenced. To me it was the only case. My case. Just like every bureaucrat at some point encounters a case that shape their career as a civil servant, more than any other.”
Johan reluctantly applies for the senior consultant position at the Ministry of Defence and gets the job. He soon realises that the rules and moods on the inside of the ministry is quite different to how outsiders might imagine it. Shortly after his employment, the inexperienced bureaucrat receives what initially appears to be an innocuous email from a Norwegian soldier, previously stationed abroad. Ministry of Defence shrug at the case, and it is dismissed with professional silence, but the probable, and uncomfortable, truth of the matter, continues to haunt Johan Berg. The devil is, as we know, in the details, and the details of this email both dig at and point towards a bigger issue: Norway’s role in warfare, how we depict history and the issue of the state’s responsibility. For Johan, the email’s contents, and its consequences, come to form a crucial illustration of the relationship between the individual and the state, our own personal histories, and history with a capital H.
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