A Restive Retreat

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

If there’s a room that you can visit to recuperate and get away from the standard stresses of work and life, wouldn’t it make sense to go there? But what if you’re the only one who sees and experiences the room and your colleagues think you’re suffering a mental break? Does the existence of the room matter? Who gets to decide if it’s real or not? This situation is explored in greater detail in Jonas Karlsson’s The Room.

The Authority’s newest member to the open-plan office is Björn, who functions in a most regimented manner. He plans his work schedule into 55 minutes of work with a 5 minute break, where he would often go to the toilet by either the long or shorter route. It was on one of his shorter routed toilet breaks where he discovers a room that everyone else seems to be avoiding. Curious, Björn ventures into the room to find that it contains a desk and all the accouterments of an office. By utilizing this secret room, Björn’s efficiency increases while his co-workers become more annoyed than concerned by the bizarre behavior Björn exhibits.

I must say that having read a tagline that The Room is Kafkaesque might have skewed my perspective of the narrative, but having read much of Kafka’s work in both German and English, I definitely agree that The Room follows a similar narrative trajectory and concept to what Kafka tended to explore. The novel was very quickly paced with incredibly short chapters–I read the entire novel in about an hour and a half. The writing was sharp and to the point with enough wit to keep the narrative from becoming dry and boring. And as an office dweller during the daytime, I can easily relate to the idea of having something all your own in a corporate world where everything is regulated to be the same.

Overall, I’d give it a 5 out of 5 stars.

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