Ever get so bored that you are starting to hallucinate? This was probably the case for Björn at his new job. Or why else would he imagine a room? Or maybe it was not an hallucination and the room did exist. The Room by Jonas Karlsson brings up a lot of questions and trust me, you will not get all of them answered. But perhaps that is the beauty of The Room – the consistently asking why and doubting everything.
The Room tells the bizarre story of Björn at his new job. In one of Björns breaks between two of his compulsive fifty-five-minute periods he finds a room. Björn is surprised how neat and tidy it is. He enters the room now and then and even tries to show it to his co-workers, but they are not as enthusiastic as he. Björn later finds out that he seems to be the only one that can actually see the room. Björn’s co-workers only see a wall, so it is not a surprise that they eventually think that he is a complete nutcase. As a reader you’re doubting the opinion of the co-workers, but you also have some question marks directed towards Björn. How much of the illusion is real? Is it all an hallucination or is Björn actually telling the truth? These uncertainties are making The Room a very strange, but also interesting book. It is all in the tradition of the work of Franz Kafka. It has the same absurd and realistic atmosphere. In a way it has strong resemblance to The Trial. Björn calls his office the Authority and tries the fight his co-workers. Just as in The Trial you are doubting the psychological condition of the protagonist. How reliable is he? How much can you believe the things he is saying or doing? In what extent is Björn’s point-a-view trustworthy? So many question in this tiny novel! It is such a short story and still there is so much room for a complete and utter mind blowing.
If you are looking for something new and improving, this is not the book for you. It’s without a doubt a retelling of The Trial. I even get a little twist of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Björn has the same outsider arrogance as Holden. So if you are a fan of Kafka and Salinger and you are looking for a modern Kafka or an Salinger thwart male character well by all means, stop looking, because this is the book for you. You will be not be bored for one second. But if you are not ready for another Kafkaesque retelling, no matter how good it is, trust me, don’t even touch the book, because you will die of boredom and irritation. In a way The Room is somehow predictable, because it follows the same patterns as The Trial. So The Room is good attempt for a modern Kafka, but it is not Kafka. It’s more than nice and it’s in some way brilliant, but again, it’s not Kafka. Maybe you have noticed, or maybe you don’t, but even in the review there’s a lot of doubt about the book. So it must be a pretty good book if it brings up such a discussion. Just read the book, be in doubt, be bored, be amazed, read!
And listen! You can now listen to a small part of The Room, read by the author himself during a lovely christmas party.
This book review is written by Sayonara Stutgard. The review copy of The Room was graciously provided through Netgalley by publisher Hogarth. Would you also like to write for Bored to Death book club? Just send us an email!