If you’ve ever worked in an office, you know exactly the person I’m about to describe. He or she (sex in this case does not matter) just doesn’t quite fit in. They aren’t a bad person, per se. Just off. Something isn’t quite right about them. Like a computer that’s been dropped a few times but still (for the most part) works, this person seems to be missing a piece of necessary wiring.
You do your best to get along with the person, but for whatever reason—lack of social graces, strange interaction patterns, devious motives—something isn’t quite clicking.
If this person sounds familiar, Björn from Jonas Karlsson’s The Room will be a very recognizable character. If it doesn’t sound familiar, you may in fact be that person.
Karlsson’s brief, matter-of-fact novel follows around the rarely-name-dropped Björn just as he begins his new job. The plan is simple: begin slowly, work quietly, ingratiate and then, ultimately, ascend to a position of power within his new company.
Of course, this is derailed once the other workers in the office—already likely annoyed by his odd habits, peculiar working style and downright rude manner of passive-aggressive reprimands—become undone by his constant visitations to “the room”.
Located in the hallway near the elevator and bathroom, there’s a room Björn has made his own—complete with desk, fan, writing implements and all the other accouterments of office life.
The only problem? He’s the only person who believes it exists. While he’s in the room getting precious work done that will vault him to the top, all everyone else sees is a strange man, standing completely still next to a wall wearing an even stranger expression of blankness.
Karlsson’s writing does a fantastic job of walking the tightrope, keeping the reader unsure if his main character is an arrogant nut job worthy of contempt, or simply a guy looking to find his place, lost in his new surroundings.
The Room, with its quick writing and to-the-point style, is a very easy read, but that alone isn’t enough to get you to pick up a copy. More importantly, it’s a very relatable story, whether you know the Björn in your office or you are the Björn in your office.