People Who Lunch

On Work, Leisure, and Loose Living


By Sally Olds

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$36.00 CAD

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A riveting investigation of the utopian experiments attempting to resist the unrelenting demands of late-stage capitalism—only to end up living comfortably alongside it

What do post‑work politics, the cult of crypto, clubbing, and polyamory have in common? All have spawned thriving subcultures united in their rejection of the patriarchal capitalist order: from wage labor, to the reign of the shareholder class over capital markets, to romantic relationships that feel like contractual arrangements to be negotiated, and more.

People Who Lunch is about hating work and needing to work, intimacy and technology, labor and leisure, and the challenge of living our ideals in a less than ideal world. In it, Sally Olds brings her “unsparing scrutiny to bear…as she grapples with the sense of entrapment in the machinery of capitalism and remorseless logic of commodification” (ABC Arts).

In one essay, Olds’s brief flirtation with post-monogamy forces her to confront the emotional prison of the “open relationship”; in another, a multi-hour viewing of a critically acclaimed performance art piece highlights how even the highest forms of culture exist to convert pleasure into capital.

In the end, her forays into these colorful worlds betray a deep irony: escaping a system built on the exchange of wage labor is, quite simply, a lot of work.

  • “Anyone who saw me reading People Who Lunch in the park would have found me at turns furrowing my brow, nodding ruefully, and cackling aloud. Olds’ writing is that rare combination of unsparing and enjoyable, a much needed departure from the formulaic.”
    Jenny Odell, author of How to Do Nothing and Saving Time
  • “Illuminating essays on the nature of work and relationships.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “Olds’s idiosyncratic perspective consistently surprises, and she elegantly blends cultural, historical, and class analysis into an easy to digest whole. This is a pleasure.”
    Publishers Weekly
  • “One could compare Olds to established voices like Jia Tolentino and Maggie Nelson, but People Who Lunch is the rare collection that heralds itself as something entirely original.”
  • “I can’t stop thinking about People Who Lunch. The book interrupts my sleep, and I desperately want to discuss it with everybody.”
    Sydney Review of Books
  • "A remarkable debut… written in a register many great authors write in: one that does not worry about the industry, about the audience, about the bullshit; one that cares only about the book itself. The result is miraculous."
    ABC News (Australia)
  • “Every piece in the collection…asks you to think harder about the ways we earn money, party, and look out for each other… Driven by sharp intellect and a radiant, unaffected interest in the world around her.” 
    Imogen Dewey, The Guardian (Australia)
  • “It’s rare to find new writing this bold and exciting.”
  • “An utterly riveting and original collection of essays—hard-thinking, formally innovative, dazzling intellectually, and sentence by sentence out-of-this-world good.”
    Maria Tumarkin

On Sale
Feb 6, 2024
Page Count
176 pages
Little Brown Spark

Sally Olds

About the Author

Sally Olds is an Australian writer based in Melbourne. Her work has been published by Sydney Review of Books, un Magazine, AQNB, and the Institute of Modern Art, collected in anthologies, and shortlisted for the Griffith Review’s Emerging Voices Competition and the Sydney Review of Books / Copyright Agency’s Emerging Critics Fellowship. People Who Lunch was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. More of her writing can be found at

Learn more about this author