16 December 15 | Kaija Straumanis

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Peter Biello on The Room by Jonas Karlsson, translated by Neil Smith and out from Hogarth.

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Here’s the beginning of Peter’s review:

If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Perception is reality.” To Björn, the office worker who narrates Jonas Karlsson’s novel The Room, the reality is simple: there’s a door near the bathroom that leads to a tidy little room with a desk. Inside this room, he feels a profound sense of peace. The problem is that Björn is the only one in the office who can see the room.

Björn is a new employee at “the Authority” at the start of the novel. He describes himself as ambitious and smart, but within a matter of pages, it becomes clear that he’s unreliable. He reprimands a co-worker for allowing the files on his desk to spill onto Björn’s, an obvious overreaction. We begin to realize that the whole office is concerned about Björn’s strange behavior when the manager, Karl, sends an email to the entire staff that says: “We will be putting staffing issues under a microscope.”

What follows Karl’s email is the revelation that Björn sees a room nobody else can, and that, while Björn thinks he is inside the room, he is actually staring at the wall. Karl and the staff confront him about this behavior, but Björn, so convinced of his own reality, insists that everyone else is delusional or conspiring against him.

For the rest of the review, go here.


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