Canada Reads

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Hench is a novel by Natalie Zina Walschots.

Championed by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee is championing Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots on Canada Reads 2021. (Submitted by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee)

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee is championing Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots on Canada Reads 2021.

Canada Reads will take place March 8-11. The debates will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio OneCBC TVCBC Gem and on CBC Books

About Hench

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn't glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?

As a temp, she's just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called "hero" leaves her badly injured.  And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she's the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing. And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It's not too long before she's employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.  (From William Morrow)

From the book

June had been henching longer than I had; she'd dipped a toe in the dastardly end of the freelance world for the first time almost three years ago, and had been invaluable when I followed suit. She was the first person to admit to me that she worked as a hench, and surprised me by generously helping me through my Temp Agency application. I was a shaking mess before my first intake interview, expecting a roomful of hardened and battle-scarred evildoers. There was a remarkable lack of black lycra and metal masks when I finally walked through the doors, though, just desperate temps, who looked as likely to have decent typing speeds as demolitions experience. She made fun of me relentlessly for being so scared, and we quickly became inseparable.

From Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots, published by William Morrow. Copyright © 2020 by Natalie Zina Walschots. Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollinsPublishers.

More about Hench

The Canada Reads 2021 contenders

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?