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The Room

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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  4,249 ratings  ·  751 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
...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Hogarth (first published February 5th 2014)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  4,249 ratings  ·  751 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
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BlackOxford
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
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Blair
Review originally published at Learn This Phrase.

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
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Douglas
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
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Mish
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
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Paula
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
Leah
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
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Sally906
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing

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
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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
RitaSkeeter
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
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Zaz
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
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Vanessa
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
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AmberBug com*
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
www.shelfnotes.com 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
...more
Carol
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
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Calzean
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
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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
...more
Sharon
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
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Marjolein
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-english, arc
3.5 stars

Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

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
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Kris
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
...more
Pamela
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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Teresa Reid
Jul 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
I fucking hated this book. I try not to swear in my reviews as liberally as I do in real life, but this book makes me angry that I wasted 160 pages waiting to see if it got better. I expected something funny and interesting, in the form of "the 100 year old man", but what I got was like the Rosie Effect if the character was even less likeable and more delusional. Don't bother with this book. I would have given it 0/5 if I could have.
Ebb
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nordic-finished
Really enjoyable story. It's short but it definitely packs a lot of story within. I felt the main character to be quite unlikeable but psychologically interesting. His attitude and the way he sees the world was unique. I don't think I've seen a character quite like him before in any book I've read.
Katy Noyes
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
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Melissa I
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Melissa by: Goodreads First Reads & Crowns listing
LOL!! what did I just read!!?? *rhetorical* First off there are 188 pages in the uncorrected proof/print format and the GR's page says about 128. No big deal, just a note, but OMG! I Loved this book!! I'd so happily take a million+ more like it and read them all!! It's killing me to have seen bad reviews on Amazon because it was fantastic in its quirky, WTH, is going on, puzzling wonderful way. I don't know, I've always been the odd man *woman* out when it comes to books and I adored this one.

T
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Josh
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
Bob Schnell
Advanced reading copy review - publication date February 2015

I am often drawn to quirky Scandinavian fiction, perhaps due to my Danish ancestral roots. I find, in many cases, the ones that get translated to English and make it to America are of the "see how weird the Europeans are" variety. To me, they are often reminiscent of the Twilight Zone, realistic but something is amiss. "The Room" by Jonas Karlsson certainly fits that description.

This short novel is being promoted as a Swedish version o
...more
Emma
Mar 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Originally posted on bluchickenninja.com.

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
...more
Mandy
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This quirky, Kafkaesque fable of a socially inept and socially unaware office worker Bjorn who goes to work for an organisation simply called The Authority makes for some compelling reading. Bjorn believes in his own superiority over his colleagues and in fact there does seem to be some justification for his confidence. But office politics are never simple and he soon incurs the hostility of his workmates, not least when he appears to discover a mysterious room along the corridor. Bjorn is an un ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add page number 2 11 Apr 14, 2018 04:39PM  
Around the Year i...: The Room, by Jonas Karlsson 9 30 May 09, 2017 02:38PM  
Simple but complex 1 17 Aug 29, 2015 05:27PM  
Books on the Nigh...: THE ROOM by Jonas Karlsson - SPOILERS 7 100 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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