The Room-Jonas Karlsson
novella in translation
Björn finds a room at his office but no one else seems to see it.
I have only ever worked in the traditional office environment for a grand total of six weeks. By the end of those six weeks, I was ready to never see a cubicle again. It was an experience I’d describe as uncomfortable, surreal, and incredibly dull (though I didn’t actually dislike any of my coworkers). This book instantly put me back there but with a (very welcome) sense of humor.
This is such a short book and the language is sparse, clean, and cleaned of any extraneous details. Minimalist writing is not usually my jam-I like details and atmosphere. Yet, you get the sense that you could reread this book and each time read a different story. Masterful writing. This is a satire so there’s definitely humor in almost every scene but what it is exactly a satire of is a bit more nebulous. Is Björn crazy and/or a victim of office bullying? What exactly is Björn so efficient at? Does the room actually exist? Is the problem the room or that Björn works alone? I’ve reread it three times now and each time tried to see it a different way and the writing still works out beautifully (so kudos to the translator too!). I mean, Björn is…an amalgamation of those three co-workers you’ve hated working with the most-he’s self-involved, arrogant, suspicious/paranoid, and socially inept. I enjoyed his predicament-Authority liked him, his coworkers were disturbing him, and no one believes him when he says the room is real.
I will be waiting for more of Karlsson’s work to be translated because this was an unforgettable piece of writing.