Björn starts a new job at The Authority. What he does there is never fully explained but it involves writing some sort of reports. He works on the four-figure reports—#1967, #2403 and the like—but these aren't as important as the three-figure reports which are handled on a different floor. The two-figure reports are even more high-powered and are reserved for the absolute cream of The Authority. Mind you, things could be worse, at least he is not stuck working on the five-figure ones. That would be awful.
He quickly settles into a decent routine. He works in focused 55-minute bursts followed by a 5-minute break during which he'll nip to the loo or grab a coffee from the machine or stand awkwardly near a workmates desk in an attempt to seem friendly and strike up a conversation.
On one such break he notices a door between the lifts and the toilets. He opens it, ventures inside and finds a neat, empty office with desk, filing cabinet, angle-poise lamp and so on. He likes it in there. He feels good. More than that, he feels splendid. His clothes look smarter. He is more confident. When he leaves the office he is raring to go.
The only slight problem is that, according to his fellow workers, there is no door between the lifts and the toilets. Therefore there is no office. And they are starting to get freaked out by Björn's habit of standing silent and still next to the wall for five minutes every hour. The five minutes when he swears blind that he's in The Room.
It's all very Kafka/Magnus Mills but that's a lazy comparison and Karlsson does his own thing with the novel. He takes this great set up and runs off in a few surprising directions, with Björn becoming a more and more disturbing character, at points giving Bartleby the Scrivener a run for his money.
The Room is short, I polished it off in just a couple of sittings, so never outstays its welcome. I found it to be a bleak delight. I realise it is only the third week in January but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this on my Books of the Year list come December.