“Fast-moving and relentlessly sunny… Like Allan, the plot is pleasingly nimble and the book’s endearing charm offers a happy alternative to the more familiar Nordic noir”

CONTAINS SPOILERS!

When you (hopefully) reach a hundred years old I’m sure the last thing you will want to do is climb out of a window and go on the run, firstly from your own birthday party, secondly from a gang of drug dealers, and thirdly from the police.

The last two chasing you because of your unfortunate habit of accidentally murdering people and stealing a suitcase stuffed with money. Two chapters in and you already know this is not your ordinary book.

The hundred year old man in question is Allan Karlsson, a quiet, pragmatic man who has a habit of blowing up his own house. He doesn’t really want to meet the mayor on his century birthday so climbs out of the window of his retirement home and disappears.

What follows is a funny and touching adventure involving many unlikely and varied characters, including an elephant. The adventure romps along nicely with many funny, touching and poignant moments. The simple and delightfully to the point writing style really suits this and matches perfectly with the calm, patient and wise old man at the center of this tale.

Along with the main story line we have flashbacks to various stages of our hero’s past. His uncanny knack to be at the center of many historical events. It turns out he is responsible for giving both America and Russia the atomic bomb, has met and become friends with most world presidents, and blown up an awful lot of places too. Taken at face value and looked at objectively it is absurd, but it really works when you are reading it and doesn’t feel farcical at all. It shows the gentle skill of the writer to weave such a ridiculous story and make it seem entirely plausible.

So if you’re looking for something that is a little left field and out of the ordinary then you can’t go far wrong with this. Funny, historical, heartwarming, adventurous and full of hope. Really, you should read it, if only to read about an elephant sitting on a drug dealer.

 

Reviewed by:

Jake Mann

Added 10th October 2015

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Jake Mann

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

Firstly I would like to say that I think this is officially the longest title of any book I have ever read!

A few people mentioned this book on our Facebook page, curiosity got the better of me and without a clue about what it was about I downloaded it last week to read.

The author, Jonas Jonasson is Swedish and some of the novel is based there, although it’s an adventure that travels quite a few miles along the way.

The 100-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared is quite a read, and starts with a centenarian climbing out of the window of his nursing home on the day of his birthday. Fuelled by thoughts of being paraded in front of the mayor, he clambers out in his slippers and what follows can only be described as a rollicking good read!

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so I’m going to stay away from the plot line. For a long novel, the prose is interesting; it’s almost like two books running concurrently that finally meet in the last chapter. Much of it is written in retrospect and you soon discover that the protagonist, Allan Karlsson, wasn’t always 100, and has lived quite an explosive life.

The 100-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared is very funny, very fast-paced and witty and a good lesson in seeing past the pipe and slippers in the way we view the elderly in life. It’s also a lesson in how it’s never too late to start over. I loved Allan, he reminded me very much of someone I used to know and for me, this added to the enjoyment of the book.

A brilliant novel, a great read and would certainly appeal to men, women, and anyone with a passing interest in 20th Century history. My only aside is that I bet it reads better in Swedish, there were bits, usually funny ones where I felt something was being lost in translation.

 

Reviewed by:

Kath Cross

Added 2nd July 2015

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Kath Cross

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