This Could Hurt

“Periodically a writer captures the pattern of comedy and tragedy that peppers office life like alternating colors of carpet squares.  As smart as Medoff’s critique of corporate inanity is, it’s tempered by compassion for these people, who are ultimately tender with each other, too.  Medoff finds plenty of hurt—but strains of hope, too.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Authentic, razor-sharp, and achingly funny, THIS COULD HURT is a masterful novel about work, loneliness, love, and loyalty; about sudden reversals and unexpected windfalls; a novel about life.

INDIE NEXT Pick for January 2018
AMAZON Best Book of January: Literature and Fiction
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’S Must Read Books of January
REAL SIMPLE: Best Books of 2018 (so far)
PEOPLE: Books of the Week
SLATE POLITICAL GABFEST: Chatter Recommended Read!!!!!!!!
SLATE DOUBLE X GABFEST: Hanna Rosin Recommends
SLATE CULTURE GABFEST: Julia Turner Recommends
OPRAH: 10 Titles to Pick Up NOW!
NEW YORK POST’s Recommended Reading
MINNESOTA NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Best Books of the Year (2018)
POETS & WRITERS: New & Noteworthy Books for Winter
THE MILLIONS: Most Anticipated Books of 2018
CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS: Most Anticipated Fiction of 2018
FAST COMPANY: Books to Read in January
PARADE Picks: Hot Fiction
NEWSDAY: Best Titles for Audiobook Listening
ELIN HILDERBRAND: Best Books of 2018 (Who doesn’t love Elin?)
THE WEEK: Author of the Week
800-CEO-READ: Top Business Books for January
POPSUGAR’s Books to Read this Winter
USA Today: 11 Books We’re Looking Forward to this Spring
MSN.COM: Best 16 Books Hitting Shelves in January
READ IT FORWARD: January Favorite Read
BOOKRIOT’S 101 Books of 2018
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL: 10 Topical Titles for Business Executives
RT: Top Pick for January
PureWow: Book of the Month
Daily Break: 13 Favorite Books for March


Once-in-a-lifetime rave from Ron Charles in the Washington Post: “Periodically a writer captures the pattern of comedy and tragedy that peppers office life like alternating colors of carpet squares…As smart as Medoff’s critique of corporate inanity is, it’s tempered by compassion for these people, who are ultimately tender with each other, too…Medoff finds plenty of hurt—but strains of hope, too.” “A workplace saga with heart. . . . Like Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, its strength lies in its motley crew of flawed but relatable characters—the staff who are left clinging to their jobs amidst all the downsizing, while also coping with personal lives that leave much to be desired. . . . Ultimately, Medoff’s book is about finding oneself — and satisfaction — in a combination of absorbing work and personal relationships.”

TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (LONDON): “…depicts twenty-first-century jobs in all their specificity…In contrast to many other novels of office life, the tone here is not chiefly satirical or alienated. Some characters do bridle at the monotony of their jobs, but for better or worse they are generally absorbed in their work, which is the engine that drives their stories forward.”

FINANCIAL TIMES (LONDON): this is just a profile with no pull-quotes, but it will never, ever happen again so I’m posting it everywhere.

Amazing review in PEOPLE!

NEWSDAY:…smart novel of corporate life…”

NEWSDAY on audiobook: “…the round robin of narrators makes Medoff’s expertly developed characters even more real.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:Medoff explores the daily vagaries of corporate life in her smart, sympathetic workplace dramedy. Set in the HR department of a struggling midlevel Manhattan firm circa 2009, it’s like a New York novelization of The Office–with less winky, fourth-wall-breaking satire and more heart.”

TAMPA BAY-TIMES: “Mordantly funny. . . . Medoff, who has a long career in management consulting in addition to her work as a writer, paints her characters’ work life in sharp detail. She also warmly sketches their personal lives. . . . Medoff tells a tale that suggests that even in the worst of times, there really are human resources.”

New York Post: How a Horrible Corporate Job Led to an Awesome Novel

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “[Medoff] is a deft observer of office politics, as well as human relationships. She has a sense of history. And she wastes no one’s time: The narrative cracks along, without an indulgent passage in the book…”

David Plotz on Slate Political Gabfest at 59:00 mark (very end):An incredibly funny, incredibly human book. And it is, I think maybe the best book I’ve ever read about what work means, about how to do it better, about how to manage people, about how to be a good colleague, about the intra-personal relationships of an office. . . . I haven’t read something with as much pleasure in six months.”

Bethanne Patrick for the Barnes and Noble Review: “...deeply funny and deeply affecting…”

Shout out in Vanity Fair: “Novelist Jillian Medoff sends a companywide memo, reminding us that This Could Hurt (Harper)”

The Million’s Most Anticipated Books of 2018: “Medoff works a double shift…In her fourth novel, she turns her attention to a milieu she knows very well, the strange and singular world of corporate America…”

Big love from BookPage: “So how does THIS COULD HURT—based entirely around the daily happenings of a human resources team—yield such a delicious, satisfying book? Because Jillian Medoff delivers a story that is about so much more than run-of-the-mill office politics…”

BookReporter: “…a penetrative novel about how work—even the work we might resent or despise at times—forges strange and wonderful relationships and forces difficult choices…”

Relentless Economics: “…very few writers have spent enough time within recirculated-air walls to even know what an Employee Engagement Survey is, much less write a novel that talks about one. Luckily then that Jillian Medoff – an actual full-time management consultant as well as being the author of three previous novels – is the rare writer brave and skillful enough to wade into cubicle-land and come out with more than clichés. In THIS COULD HURT, she has penned a wickedly-accurate account of life in a small and struggling company during the dark years of the 2008 economic crisis as seen through a half dozen players in the HR department. In doing so she gives us a nice piece of narrative economic history and a pretty un-put-downable novel at the same time….”

REAL SIMPLE: “Uplifting and hilarious…As [characters] navigate office drama, love affairs, and personal ambitions in the face of corporate cutbacks, Medoff examines the impact our work-life decisions have on our home lives.”

O MAGAZINE: “This bighearted dramedy of manners stars Rosa, one of the most intriguing characters ever to walk the halls of an HR department, nd her supporting cast of flawed but devoted employees…”


The Savvy Reader’s Most Anticipated Reads of (Early) 2018: “…powerful, illuminating, relatable…”

WYPR, NPR’s Weekly Reader: The esteemed Marion Winik calls THIS COULD HURT “…a savvy slice of corporate life that finds heart and humor in an HR bureaucracy…” (and then I died bc Marion Winik is a legend)

Chicago Tribune(!): “…the surprisingly sweet story of a corporate human resources department…”

The National Book Review’s Top 5 Books: “…a charming and clever novel whose portrait of the absurdity of the world of big business rings disturbingly true…”

Rave from TOTALLY DUBLIN: “…Bringing to life its apparently dry subject matter, THIS COULD HURT is an intriguing study of the self-inflicted structures we live by, and the many creative, unlikely ways we find to subvert them.”

Society of HR Management (SHRM): “…a rare realistic look into a fictional HR department and what makes it tick. There are entire sections—like the fictional company’s multiple and hilarious foiled attempts to field a successful employee engagement survey, or the tale of a group of employees plotting to inhabit a vacant floor—that will have HR pros laughing in “OMG so true!” agreement….”

INDIE NEXT Pick: “Who knew that a novel about a faltering company’s HR department could be so gripping and compassionate? Anyone who has worked in a company with other people will appreciate the resentments, friendships, and competitions that develop in a long-time team. Medoff does a great job of making the reader care about each and every character.” —Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany NY

SHELF AWARENESS: “Corporate America during nine months of the Great Recession is the setting of This Could Hurt, Jillian Medoff’s shrewd and deeply affecting fourth novel…Medoff has a spot-on grasp on the often cutthroat nuances of office politics…She skillfully reveals the modus operandi of the staff as they vie to keep their jobs. Sharply drawn intimate details about the lives of each character add even greater depth and broaden the timeless appeal of this very smart, thoroughly absorbing story..”

PARADE Hot Fiction Picks (w/excerpt): “…a sweet, sharp funny tale…”

SOUTHERN LIVING: “Set within the cogs of corporate America, THIS COULD HURT tells the story of five colleagues struggling with professional tumult, uncertainty, and ambition. Jillian Medoff unfolds these characters’ daily lives, the hours spent at the office, with precision and a strong dose of humanity.”

KIRKUS raves: “Although Medoff frankly chronicles plenty of scheming and self-serving, Rosa’s devotion to her staff is repaid with loyalty and affection that are all the more poignant coming from believably flawed characters…everyone gets nicely textured treatment in an engrossing narrative…a sharp-eyed novel of corporate manners…”

LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review): “…An ultimately hopeful, completely inventive tale…”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ten Topical Titles for Business Executives

BOOKLIST: “Incisive…Medoff’s scenarios will be familiar to everyone employed everywhere, no matter the company size, and she cogently captures the angst and celebrates the camaraderie of coworkers committed to group success while struggling with personal demons.”

Atlas Obscura’s Mid-Winter Reading List: “…a wonderful novel about the most boring place in the world: the HR department at a dreary, failing company. Medoff digs deep into the lives of five exceptionally ordinary people, and turns their trivial work dramas into humane comedy. It’s also a brilliant how-to book about what it takes to be a great colleague and a good manager.”

Electric Literature: “…motley crew of middle managers are self-absorbed, manipulative, and dysfunctional but their all-too-human flaws are redeemed by their fierce loyalty to Rosa and the lengths they go to to protect her…”

Daily Nebraskan: “…The darkness and anxiety surrounding jobs and money is palpable in this book, and Medoff forces readers to experience these feelings through her powerful prose….”

Yahoo Lifestyle: “…if you’ve ever worked in a corporate environment, you’ll appreciate the satire of this dysfunctional office and its cast of characters. While you’re at it, pick up a copy for your work wife too.”

Slate’s Culture Gabfest (55:13 mark): “…great novel…great beach read…like THE OFFICE and MAD MEN…takes the emotions of being a professional seriously in a really novel and excellent way…super-readable and great…”

MSN Lifestyle: “…thoroughly enjoyable exploration of what it means to run an office in the 21st century. Through the lens of five members of an HR team, we see all the highest highs–and lowest lows–of what it takes to keep a company afloat..”

Great review in AudioFile Magazine: “…Each narrator assumes a specific point of view that shows the same characters through a different lens, resulting in a captivating Rashomon effect among the cubicles and conference rooms…warmth and humor will keep the listener invested.”

The blisteringly smart Jesse Kornbluth reviews TCH for HeadButler: “…well written enough for critical praise but broadly appealing enough to be sold in airports..”

POPSUGAR, Best Winter Books of 2018: “On the surface, THIS COULD HURT is a novel about five human resources colleagues. But in Jillian Medoff’s hands, this is much more than a workplace satire. It is a sharp, engaging, and smart look at the people we work with and the deep inner lives we all lead.”

RT TOP PICK for Jan: “A charming, intriguing, incredibly funny and brilliant satire…Medoff brilliantly shares looks at all the characters and their lives both in and out of the workplace, and while the subject matter can sometimes be serious or gripping in a more emotional way, there is still plenty of bite from her witty writing, which also shines throughout.”

PW: “…a sharp and moving novel…”

Fredericksburg (VA) Freelance Star: “…THIS COULD HURT is a very enjoyable read and Medoff moves between the characters and their stories seamlessly. If there is a silver lining within the financial crisis, THIS COULD HURT might be it.”

USA Today: “…depicts the tragedy and comedy of working in corporate America during the recession.”

BUSTLE: “It may not be set at a hospital, university, or political law firm, but Jillian Medoff’s honest and hilarious novel about the modern workplace and the role it plays in shaping our lives will appeal to fans of Shonda Rhimes’s professional dramedies. THIS COULD HURT explores the lives of five HR employees at a large corporate research company as they navigate the ups and downs of their personal and professional lives, especially where both overlap. Hilarious as it is heartfelt, this smart novel has everything you’ve been missing since your favorite shows went off air: love, loss, living life.”

READ IT FORWARD’s Favorite Reads of Jan: “[THIS COULD HURT] takes the concept of the office drama and makes it so real, so achingly poignant at times, that you’ll be glued to the page even as you walk through scenes devoted to CEOs and cubicles…”

Slate’s DoubleX Gabfest (47:00 mark): “…such a good’s about members of an HR department but so much more…their relationships, their growing intimacy, their friendship and love…the best book about office life that I’ve ever read…”

BuzzFeed loves THIS COULD HURT: “…A portrait of corporate life, this novel explores the meaning of work and loyalty as the characters deal with the hopes and heartbreaks of daily life..”

Daily Break: 13 Favorite Books for March 2018: “…bitingly relatable and unexpectedly touching.”

Sleep Number Blog: 5 Humorous Books to Help Melt Away Stress: “Layoffs aren’t funny but Medoff makes the machinations behind them zing…with heart, humor and biting, sometimes all-too-real scenarios.”

52 Weeks, 52 Books, 52 Women: “This is the perfect moment for THIS COULD HURT, a funny, insightful tale of the HR department of Ellery Consumer Research, a company trying to manage the economic downturn of 2009…”

Tall Poppies: “…What I love most about the book is Medoff’s ability to both empathize with her characters while also sending up the oft-times ludicrous work that consumes the life of the everyday office worker…hilarious and surprisingly sweet, and comes complete with organizational flow charts. If you have a job, or have ever had one, or ever hope to have one, This Could Hurt is for you!”

20somethingreads: “…a penetrative novel about how work — even the work we might resent or despise at times — forges strange and wonderful relationships and forces difficult choices.”

Of recent reading I found [This Could Hurt] the book I have kept pondering for different reasons. A very good novel about the complexity of working relationships. The question of balance and family-like attachments are part of the book as well as surviving the Great Recession. I found the analysis of the people, systems and relationships terribly thoughtful. Part of the book also questions when to hang it up and redefine oneself. Work systems and relationships are complex, and workers spend more hours at work than with family so the back-and-forth influences on each are great.
—Larry, Proprietor, The Bookies Bookstore, Denver, CO

All too often, characters in novels live in that rarified novel-world where real-life concerns like jobs and bills and the sudden vital need for a flowchart simply don’t exist. Jillian Medoff remedies this with a refreshingly authentic portrait of corporate America and the varied souls that dream, conspire, flounder and triumph there, and this she does with a great deal of affection and charm. A very enjoyable book.
—Joshua Ferris

Corporate America has been trying to stamp out individuality for decades but Jillian Medoff brings it back to fresh, sexy, sharply funny life again. THIS COULD HURT is a missive to everyone who feels stranded in an office: You are not alone.
—Katherine Heiny, author of STANDARD DEVIATION

The workplace novel has long been the territory of male novelists—well, no more. Medoff’s provocative, comic portrait of modern American office life is a study of power, and how having it and wanting it, tests the bonds coworkers share far beyond the break room. It not only upends female stereotypes like a cheap desk, it also earns Medoff a place at the table. And all for seventy cents on the male dollar.

Jillian Medoff is one of those talented writers who make other less talented writers (myself) want to write flattering blurbs. Funny, painful, and ultimately redemptive, THIS COULD HURT is a beautifully drawn canvas of corporate America in all its lunacy.
—John Kenney, Thurber-award winning author of TRUTH IN ADVERTISING

You wouldn’t expect a corporate HR department to house a thrill-ride of a novel, but Jillian Medoff pulls off the impossible here. Funny, searing and wholly original…Medoff knocks this one out of the park.
—Darin Strauss, National Book Critics Circle award winning author of HALF A LIFE

Clear your Outlook calendar and have tissues at the ready for this huge-hearted page turner that reaffirms the healing power of plain old kindness.
—Courtney Maum, bestselling author of TOUCH

Tender and compelling, Jillian Medoff’s THIS COULD HURT reveals what happens when the ties that bind us start to fray and we are called upon to care for each other. That these relationships are among coworkers in an HR department makes them as unpredictable as they are hilarious but always real and always entertaining.
—George Hodgman, NY Times bestselling author of BETTYVILLE

Searing, sexy and surprisingly funny, Jillian Medoff’s THIS COULD HURT burns through the pages. No one is safe in this cruel but compassionate take on corporate America. I loved it.
—Marcy Dermansky, author of THE RED CAR


Business Book Podcast: The Office as Fiction (Financial Times (London), April 2018)

Jillian discusses how her writing and corporate careers finally converged in THIS COULD HURT (Chappaqua Library, February 2018)

Facebook Live (HarperCollins Studio, January 2018)