Author: Jonas Karlsson
Title: The Room
Publication Date: February 17, 2015 (English translation)
Publisher: Hogarth (Random House)
Number of Pages: 186
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: C+, Average; of the first 58 reviews, the average reader rating was 78.62%.
What’s It About?
Bjorn has just started his new position for The Authority, and he’s having trouble fitting in. A bureaucratic organization embodying the typical twenty-first century white collar office, The Authority consists of average cubicle-bound workers going about their daily routines. As he seeks to establish a routine of his own, Bjorn makes an intriguing discovery.
Between the lift and the toilet lies what appears to be an ordinary office room. When he enters, however, he finds his center. The stresses of the office politics melt away and he is able to really focus on his work. Slowly and surely, Bjorn develops an obsession with the room and begins to spend more and more of his work day inside it.
When his colleagues start to notice Bjorn’s fixation, they become uncomfortable around him. His behavior seems odd to them, and he can’t understand why. He thinks that maybe they’re jealous of his ambition or that they’re just plain crazy. Whatever the case, they’re standing between him and his room–and he refuses to put up with that.
Will Bjorn’s room be taken from him? What is this room? Why does it in interest him? Why does his interest bother his coworkers? Is this room of his even real? Does it matter? These are the questions the reader wrestles with as Bjorn tells his story.
Should You Read It?
The Room has been compared to the writings of Joshua Ferris. If you enjoy the contemporary stream-of-consciousness form of storytelling, you’ll love this book. The narrator is self-absorbed and arguably sociopathic–somewhat reminiscent of Albert Camus’ Meursault. His internal dialogue is witty and darkly comic, as he seems blissfully unaware of the way people really see him. The book also serves as a metaphor for the oppressiveness of corporate life, so if you work in an office, it will be difficult not to enjoy it–whether you take the narrative seriously or simply see it as a joke.
Links and References
Author Information: Salmonsson Agency (Author Page), Facebook, Goodreads
Book Reviews: NPR, The Guardian
Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com
Other Books by Jonas Karlsson: The Room is Jonas Karlsson’s first novel translated into English. His other fiction can be found on his author page, linked above.