Synopsis: The Authority looks favourably upon meticulousness, efficiency and ambition. Bjorn has all of this in spades, but it’s only in the Room that he can really shine. Unfortunately, his colleagues see things differently. In fact, they don’t even see the Room at all.
Title: The Room
Author: Jonas Karlsson
Pub Date: 15th January 2015
For someone who has never worked in an office, Jonas Karlsson has got it down to a tee. The environment, the people and the culture are depicted so accurately; I can imagine the entire story happening in my own office (especially in publishing, there are plenty of brilliant yet eccentric minds to entertain us all!).
In this wonderful satire, we are thrown into the mind of Björn, a brilliant character who is completely focused on taking his career to the next step and proving his own superiority to his co-workers. He isn’t supposed to be likeable; he is pedantic, arrogant and awkward – all to the extreme. Karlsson’s protagonist is both awful and hilarious – the perfect ‘weird’ guy (or girl) at work. I know I’m not meant to like him, but I do; Björn is entertaining, has no social filter and – although he’s extraordinarily arrogant – doesn’t actually mean any harm.
The Room, in my opinion, can be seen as a comment on the unfortunate effects of not quite fitting in. The reaction of Björn’s colleagues to his behaviour is amusing – if not a bit exaggerated. And, if I’m honest, I can’t blame them. Parts of Bjorn’s behaviour are so obviously comical, you can’t help be join in the laughter.
But if you take his story and put it into say, your own workplace, his colleagues’ reactions to ‘the room’ are pretty awful. The obvious whispering behind his back, the barely-contained anger, and the insults all become openly cruel. I couldn’t help feeling really sorry for the guy! We all have one (or more) strange people at work, the one’s who don’t quite fit in and there is a line between friendly jesting and office bullying and – in this novel – Björn’s colleagues’ have definitely crossed it.
Overall, this is a brilliant little story that I would recommend to anyone who has ever worked in an office. Short, sharp and a quick read – an easy 4 stars.
Finally – because I feel they never get enough credit – a huge shout out to the translator, Neil Smith, who has done an amazing job on the translation.
Don’t believe my review? Follow the link below to an extract read by the man himself.
Or watch this brilliant little video: