A dystopia where everything is done for and by society and so there’s no place for the individual. The concept of guilt is not recognized, because that’d also imply recognizing that people can make choices and mistakes. The main character finds himself in the situation where he’d prefer to be sent to prison for the crime of killing his wife than not having his crime be recognized at all – at least with prison he’d have some agency left.
I see the novel’s setting as a lighter version of 1984’s, where instead of a dystopia delivered by an evil group taking over power you have European social democracy taken to an extreme. There’s for example a version of Newspeak. People can generally see that it’s bullshit, but they go with it anyway because they’re easily convinced that it’s all for the Greater Good.
I thought the story was compelling, but I found it a bit lacking in philosophical terms (which I think the author was trying to make a statement about). You see the main character’s struggle to make guilt a thing but it doesn’t go much beyond that. It lacks the despair of 1984 or the craziness of Brazil.