Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Room by Jonas Karlsson

Jonas Karlsson is one of Sweden’s most prominent actors and a playwright. Fortunately for us, he has recently turned his considerable talent to writing fiction. 

The Room is set in a Swedish office; our main character is a new employee, Bjorn.

Bjorn has particular work habits that run counter to the norm and do not ingratiate him to the longtime employees. He works for exactly 55 minutes of each hour then takes precisely 5 minutes for a break. Each break is carefully designated for a visit to the restroom, or a snack, and no variations to the schedule are allowed. Therefore, he does not participate in group coffee breaks or lunches with his co-workers, and if that were not enough to make him stand out, he says he does his best work in – The Room. This room has the perfect desk, the most modern and efficient file cabinets, just the right lighting, formal artwork, and lush carpet. All are vastly superior to the standard issue desk and seat sprung chair adjoining other employee’s work space that he is expected to use.

Except - Bjorn is the only one who can see The Room. Everyone else simply sees Bjorn standing and staring for minutes at a time at a blank wall near the restrooms. They complain that he is crazy and needs to be fired. But when Bjorn starts turning out superior quality reports that draw the attention of the higher ups and says that he produces them in the that no one else can see, you begin to wonder who is crazy.

The Room is entertaining and somewhat reminiscent of the TV show The Office. It is also a small paperback (186 pages) that is just the right size for travel or commuting.

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