Cover image for The room : a novel
Title:
The room : a novel
Author:
Karlsson, Jonas, 1971- author.
Uniform Title:
Rummet. English
Edition:
First Edition.
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Hogarth, [2015]

©2015
Physical Description:
190 pages ; 19 cm
Summary:
Bjorn is a compulsive, meticulous bureaucrat who discovers a secret room at the government office where he works--a secret room that no one else in his office will acknowledge. When Bjorn is in his room, what his co-workers see is him standing by the wall and staring off into space looking dazed, relaxed, and decidedly creepy. Bjorn's bizarre behavior eventually leads his co-workers to try and have him fired, but Bjorn will turn the tables on them with help from his secret room.
General Note:
"Originally published in Sweden as "Rummet" in the collection, "Den Perfekta Vannen, " published by Wahlstrom & Widstrand, Stockholm, in 2009"--Title page verso.

Includes reading group guide, pages 189-190.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780804139984
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Funny, clever, surreal, and thought-provoking, this Kafkaesque masterpiece introduces the unforgettable Bjorn, an exceptionally meticulous office worker striving to live life on his own terms.
 
      Bjorn is a compulsive, meticulous bureaucrat who discovers a secret room at the government office where he works--a secret room that no one else in his office will acknowledge. When Bjorn is in his room, what his co-workers see is him standing by the wall and staring off into space looking dazed, relaxed, and decidedly creepy. Bjorn's bizarre behavior eventually leads his co-workers to try and have him fired, but Bjorn will turn the tables on them with help from his secret room.
      Debut author Jonas Karlsson doesn't leave a word out of place in this brilliant, bizarre, delightful take on how far we will go--in a world ruled by conformity--to live an individual and examined life.


Author Notes

JONAS KARLSSON writes plays and short fiction. One of Sweden's most prominent actors, Karlsson has performed on Sweden's premier stage and in several acclaimed feature films and television series. In 2005, Karlsson made his debut as a playwright, earning rave reviews from audience and critics alike. Spurred by the joy of writing for the stage, Karlsson began writing fiction.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Vaguely reminiscent of Melville's Bartleby, the Scrivener, this tale of workplace alienation is narrated by Björn, a low-level bureaucrat recently hired to work at the Authority. While the exact nature of the Authority's work is unclear, the environment seems to breed mediocrity and complacency. Hoping to shake things up and exhibiting odd, obsessive behavior, Björn immediately irritates and offends his coworkers. Shortly after arriving at the Authority, he finds a secret room down a long corridor, outfitted with a neat desk and mirror. Once in the room, he becomes a new man confident, relaxed, productive, and even virile. However, no one else in the office will acknowledge the room's existence and soon Björn's perceived antics produce chaos and strife in the workplace. The reader is left to wonder whose version of reality is correct. Part psychological drama documenting a disturbed man's possible descent into madness and part satirical take on corporate culture and the alienated workers it produces, Karlsson succeeds admirably in creating the perfect combination of funny, surreal, and disturbing.--Price, Kerri Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Swedish actor and playwright Karlsson's short novel offers a monologue that builds from simple office satire to a reality-bending psychological profile with insights into the nature and importance of personal space. Bjorn, a Stockholm bureaucrat, is a meticulous but unreliable narrator whose sense of superiority comes in conflict with the facts. When his boss eases him into another job, a demotion in several ways, Bjorn sees it as his chance to blossom into his full potential, which unfolds in a series of short, often humorous, and increasingly disturbing narratives. Bjorn begins the new job by organizing his days into 55-minute intervals with five-minute breaks. During one such break, he sees a door. When he steps inside, he finds a small, tidy, unused office. The problem with this room is no one else sees it-and it's not the only thing Bjorn sees that others do not. In the receptionist's smile Bjorn sees an invitation; in his desk-mate's pile of papers he sees encroachment; in his coworkers' denial of the room he sees conspiracy. Bjorn visits a psychiatrist, promises to never reenter the room, and meanwhile devises a strategy to defeat his adversaries. Karlsson deftly captures individual voices, which he conveys directly (as Bjorn reveals his obsessions) and indirectly (as Bjorn describes interactions with coworkers). Using Bjorn's voice to draw characters and build dramatic tension, Karlsson exposes the gifts and gaffes, visions and delusions, and the rise and fall of a seemingly ordinary civil servant. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Starred Review. The "room" in question is visible only to Bjorn, a new employee at a government building known as the "Authority." It is a small space located near the restrooms, neat and tidy yet equipped with everything he needs to do his work, and he seeks refuge there from the constant and severe scrutiny of his coworkers. After several files are accidentally placed on his desk, he voluntarily writes "templates for all future framework decisions in the communal sector." Surprising everyone with his talent for creating these excellent templates, he is now regarded by his boss as an invaluable employee and no longer spends his time adding paper to the copiers and similar mundane tasks. VERDICT This debut novel by Swedish playwright and actor Karlsson is a contemporary tale worthy of comparison to Franz Kafka's works, Amelie Nothomb's Fear and Trembling, and Herman Melville's classic "Bartelby, the Scrivener," while the antics of Bjorn's fellow workers recall Terry Gilliam's film Brazil. Enjoyable reading, extremely well executed, this fable should become mandatory reading for cubicle and office workers everywhere. Lisa Rohrbaugh, Leetonia Community P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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