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The Room

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  4,727 ratings  ·  814 reviews
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
Paperback, 190 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Hogarth (first published February 5th 2014)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  4,727 ratings  ·  814 reviews

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Glenn Russell

I first read Jonas Karlsson's cult favorite this past spring. But when I closed the book I couldn't bring myself to actually write a review. And for a very personal reason: revisiting the white collar office experience was simply too painful, bringing to mind many of my own nasty encounters with coworkers and managers on top of the tedium of pouring over memos, data, correspondence, files and reports.

There's something about an office specializing in accounting, finance, insurance, banking, real
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everyday Solipsism

Long ago I was told a purportedly Hungarian folk-aphorism by a dimly remembered acquaintance: If one person calls you a horse, ignore them; if two people call you a horse, look in the mirror; if three people call you a horse, you’re a horse.

One way to interpret The Room is as a confirmation of that titbit of popular wisdom. To some extent, at least, we are or become what we are thought of by others. On the other hand the book could be a cautionary tale suggesting the precise op
It's been more than ten months since I worked in an office. I missed it from day one six and still do. I’m unlikely to be back there any time soon, and in a couple of weeks, this time away will exceed what I took as maternity leave, years ago. The difference is that now I’m trying to work from home, don’t have the joy of a baby… oh, and there’s a raging pandemic.

My former(?) workplace is too small to be like Dilbert’s cube farm, and too benign to be akin to Kafka's insurance office, but there’s
This is the story of Björn, the newest employee of 'the Authority' - an organisation which, as mysterious as it sounds, resembles the sort of very ordinary office found all over the world. Convinced of his own superiority to his co-workers, Björn immediately develops a plan for success, involving 55-minute periods of intense work and as little contact with his colleagues as possible. But it's only when he discovers 'the room', a small, beautifully furnished office which appears to belong to no-o ...more
Jun 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
There is no room.

But narrator Bjorn won't tell you that because he spends time there. It's where he's most comfortable, does his best work. Bjorn shares some characteristics (but not others) with Dwight Schrute of the U.S. version of The Office, a character I adore. His boss Karl shares some characteristics (but not others) with Michael Scott, Dwight's boss, who wants to be a good boss but isn't very good at it.

It's a compact novel, Kafkaesque. That description is overused, misused: this one rea
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Goodreads and Crown Publishing for the advance review copy. I may be the #1 fan of Hogarth, the imprint of Crown Publishing that will be releasing this book in the U.S. in February.

I was somewhat skeptical of this based on the synopsis. First, it’s written by an actor, Jonas Karlsson. I don’t want to name names, but the actor-turned-writer thing has me a bit skittish. Second, it was described as Kafkaesque. For me, that’s never a good start. Not that I don’t like Kafka, of course. I ju
The Room is absolutely brilliant. An original and delightfully, peculiar short story that will appeal to people with a warped sense of humour, as nothing really specular happens. It’s a keen observation of office workers in a typical open plan office environment, set in dead of winter in Stockholm. But the office location could be anywhere as it had the same feeling and atmosphere of any office workspace that I’ve worked in. It’s a glimpse into office interactions, work procedures, office celebr ...more
Diane S ☔
Sep 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
This short sharply written novel features Bjorn, an office worked trying to live and work on his own terms. He finds a room, in this room he feels stronger, cleverer and he can't figure out why know one uses the room. The trouble is everyone else believes the room does not exist and that he is mentally ill. But is he? Does the room actually exist and does it matter of it is real or not?

This amusing, surreal novel will appeal to all who work in offices, cubicles for space trying to live an existe
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Meet Bjorn - a legend in his own mind with a superiority complex that is off the charts and who considers himself management material through and through. He is profoundly inept socially, obtuse, odd, off-putting, awkward, and downright creepy. You know, one of those people who keeps tabs on everyone else…when they go to lunch and when they come back, how long they talk on the phone, chat by the coffee machine, etc. Yes, you know exactly the kind of person I’m talking about. You probably have a ...more
John Hatley
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read this brilliant novella before, in a different language, and I enjoyed it equally well both times. A man considered by his colleagues to be "different" and delusional tells his own story. ...more
And suddenly I realized the difference between me and my colleagues. I was ahead of them the whole time. By about two weeks. It took them numerous attempts to understand what I could see at the first go. Was it the same thing with the room? Would they stand there one day and discover what I had tried to show them such a long time before? Maybe they were just too immature to see what seemed utterly obvious to me? Was this how Copernicus felt?

I can literally open this book to any page and find a l

Opens: The first time I walked into the room I turned back almost at once

THE ROOM is narrated by Bjorn as he starts a new job after leaving his previous position in slightly murky circumstances. Whatever the implied reason for his change in job circumstances he sees it as a step up the promotion ladder, the reader is not quite sure. Whether Bjorn is a reliable narrator is something that readers will need to sort out for themselves – my personal take is that I would suspect not. At first he seems
Betsy Robinson
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Context informs every reaction, and certainly your work experience and cultural conditioning will influence your reaction to this ingenious novel about corporate office life.

For decades I worked in corporate offices and hated almost every minute of it. I used to come home numb, sit in my big chair in my big room and fantasize about a time when I would never have to go into an office again. So boy, could I relate to the protagonist of this tale. And the fact that he’s set up to be someone most ev
Julie Ehlers
I can't really say that I didn't like this short novel—it's well-written at the sentence level, it moves quickly, and it kept me entertained and even made me laugh out loud a few times. Ultimately, though, it just didn't work for me. The protagonist, Bjorn, is your classic unreliable narrator—we can't tell if he's mentally ill, or a clueless asshole, or just a creative, nonconformist guy in a department of colleagues who don't care for creativity and lack of conformity. Because we don't know who ...more
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A tragic tale of a quirky person in a workplace that values relationships and doesn't tolerate difference. Bjorn starts a new position, but as readers we pick up straight away that all may not be as it seems. Bjorn's former boss encouraged him to look for a new position elsewhere, and Bjorn finds one with the 'Authority', though the conditions are worse than he had in his previous job.

Bjorn wants to do a good job. He sets strict schedules for himself, with a 55/5 plan - meaning he works for 55 m
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
The narrator Bjorn would be the employee/workmate you wouldn't usually want. He has little inter-personnel skills, has no lack of confidence, looks down at his manager and workmate and finds happiness in being in an office which does not exist. Initially he is given quite basic tasks and then reveals himself to be a gifted assessor. But he is a bit of an unreliable narrator.
He works for the Authority, a grey behemoth public service bureau with an unspecified role. The book covers power and hiera
A weird and unusual story, really well written.

Bjorn is hired in a new place and he tries to find his place there with tight schedules, hard work and little socialisation. One day, searching for the toilets, he enters a new room he likes very much. But does the room really exist?

It was a weird story, stuck between mental illness and paranormal. It was also very funny in the 1st half, I was quite fond of the way Bjorn interacted with his environment and how he described his coworkers (he wasn't a
May 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Mixed feelings about this... finished in one sitting on my plane ride back to L.A. from Booktopia VT.

The concept of the book is wonderful and sets the foundation for several effective metaphors about work-place conformity and banality. But the story took a few turns I thought were for the worse. The story definitely addressed some darker themes (i.e. mental health, lack of empathy, taking productivity to the extreme at the cost of human interaction, and an absence of individuality at the corpor
AmberBug com*
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it Review

Dear Reader,

Quirky, that is the perfect word for this book. If The Room lasted any longer (approx. 125 pages), I would have picked a less pleasing adjective to describe it. I want to thank the publisher greatly for sending this ARC to me, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Bjorn, the main character, is completely on the spectrum and the reader is fully aware of this after a few pages in. He clearly likes to do things a certain way and can't understand why people m
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love that the setting of this book is in a bland corporate workplace without a true identity, only identified as “The Authority”, that is easily relatable to anyone who has had a similar job. It comes off as a satire of how boring and repetitive that can be. The writing is sharp and to the point with enough wit to keep the narrative from becoming dry and boring. The writing is very good, but unusually spare, with only as much detail given to propel the plot.

Bjorn, our protagonist, has such a s
Yzabel Ginsberg
(I got a copy from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

This was a pretty strange read in many ways, but also a compelling one. I kept wondering about the mysterious room, whether it existed or not, whether Björn (the main character) was crazy or not, whether what happened in the room actually happened or not... because no matter what, everything was always just a tad bit too ambiguous to allow me to draw clear conclusions. On the one hand, it was slightly frustrating. On the other, it w
Katy Kelly
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
It’s a bit of a puzzler, this translated short novel. Did I like it? Yes. Did I understand it? Um, I’m not sure. I’ve read a little Kafka and Beckett so I understand the genre and style referred to when this as described as ‘in the tradition of’. Neither would sell millions but if it's to your taste, there's a lot of dry humour, satire and mockery to be enjoyed here.

Bjorn is our protagonist. From the start we know he’s not the most reliable narrator. Full of his own worth and importance, dismiss
201125: friends have asked me how do i pick books to read. like this. i have read it before and gave it five but no review, as it is a short short book which needs no excess, but had forgotten it until reading a gr review by my efriend blackoxford, which views the book through philosophical lens of solipsism. i had remembered only satirical, surreal, black humour. so i read it again...

black is certainly on point in describing our protagonist as 'on the spectrum'. perhaps autism is psychological
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy
What a way to start a new reading year!

Bjorn works at "The Authority", having started his new job only two weeks before. He is a workaholic, trying to do his best to gain advantage over his colleagues. He is determined to gain ground fast - he has ambitions to be promoted as soon as possible.

When he finds a vacant office (The Room) near the toilets, he finds a sanctuary that he is immediately attracted to. Here is a space where he won't be disturbed, a space that allows him to think freely wit
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
So, after thinking about this for a few hours and rating it a 3.5 for entertainment purposes, I thought I'd inch it up a half to a solid 4.0 due to its use of heavily relatable metaphor in regards to office employment. Many of us who work inside of an office building amongst peers, co-workers, acquaintances, a mixture of all three or one's you couldn't give a damn about can truly relate to this book in ways that Karlsson brings forth with each page. The cast of characters are hateful, dramatic, ...more
Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive)
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, read-in-english
3.5 stars

Read all my reviews on

The Room is an intriguing short story about one central question. Does the room exist or not?

The room itself isn't special, it's just a room like any other. The only weird thing is, Bjorn is the only one who seems to notice it. Also according to the calculations there shouldn't be a room. Is Bjorn crazy or is there more to it?

Bjorn is a very unreliable narrator and has some quite peculiar views. Although the writing was very g
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Following him in the first person, you start out thinking Bjorn is a pretty regular guy who is serious about his work and just a little full of himself. He gets transferred to a new job which isn't as good as his last but he's happy with it. (Later you wonder if his last coworkers were eager to get rid of him.) You realize quickly that he's very rude. Oh god he's so narcissistic ... Jesus Christ he's downright socially inept! And finally - oh wow he really is insane.

This is a look into madness a
Mar 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Originally posted on

This was a very strange story. I literally finished it and went “Wait what?” because it is that weird. At the start you think Bjorn is just a regular guy but as the story goes on we find out that he is rude, narcissistic and just not a nice guy. You can’t help but wonder if he is just mean or if he doesn’t understand what he is doing wrong. Sort of a Sheldon Cooper type character.

I can’t say I liked this book. Parts of it were quite boring but I can’t hel
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one weird book, but weird in a good way.

Who is the narrator? Is he reliable? Is he unreliable? What does he do for The Authority? What is The Authority? Does the room exist? Why did the narrator leave his former job? Is the narrator a model employee? Is the narrator an overbearing twit?

These are all questions the book raises within the first few pages.

These are all questions the book never answers.

My main question is: When is Karlsson's next book coming out and how do I get on the waiti
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add page number 2 11 Apr 14, 2018 04:39PM  
Simple but complex 1 17 Aug 29, 2015 05:27PM  
Books on the Nigh...: THE ROOM by Jonas Karlsson - SPOILERS 7 102 Apr 25, 2015 09:40AM  

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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.

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