I received an advanced review copy of tis book from the publisher through NetGalley.
Bjorn works in a non-descript, government office in Sweden simply known as “The Authority.” He is a self-important, regimented, quiet man who one day discovers a room in his office. He likes to visit “the room” during his breaks and it seems to give him a sense of peace and calm and it heightens his sense of self-importance.
Due to his lack of social skills, Bjorn makes his co-workers very uncomfortable. But when he insists that there is “the room” that no one else can see, they become even more agitated with him. THE ROOM is a comic illustration of the hierarchies, petty differences and bizarre social interactions that exist in the microcosm of an office.
The book is very short, it is really more of a novella at 125 pages. I do not want to say too much for fear of giving the plot away. But in the end, the symbolism of “The Room” and Bjorn’s occupation of its space turns melancholy; when Bjorn sees things that others cannot, names like “freak” and “daft” and “crazy” are thrown at him.
THE ROOM is a great choice for a book club to discuss because there are many layers of symbolism to unpack and dissect. If you read THE ROOM, please come back and share your thoughts in the comments. I am especially interested to see what other readers have to say about the ending of this thought-provoking novella.
About The Author:
Sven Bert Jonas Karlsson is a Swedish actor and author. He won a Guldbagge Award for Best Actor in 2004 for the movie Details. He published his first book, a collection of short stories, in 2007.
4 responses to “Review: The Room by Jonas Karlsson”
This sounds like it could be out of Kafka! An intriguing premise. I’ll look for it. I hope you’ll tell more about what you think it means later, but thanks for your restraint on the spoilers for now. 🙂
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It’s so funny you say that because a lot of reviewers are comparing it to Kafka!
I read it and I really enjoyed it. Although, I’m not sure I completely understand it. I was doing okay until the very end and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. I’m interested to hear your and others interpretations.
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I think that many people have experienced an unfriendly work environment and after initially trying to “fit in” decide to just retreat into our own little world. How many times have we heard someone say, “I am just going to go in, do my job, and that’s it.” So I took his retreating into the room as a symbol of Bjorn being made fun of to the point where he just occupies his own little space and doesn’t bother to interact with anyone.