Saturday, August 6, 2016

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (A Book That Was Originally Written In A Different Language)

Pro:A solid story full of fun, feel-good stuff
Con: None

The Bottom Line: This is the kind of fiction I enjoy. I'm glad so many folks recommended it.

Whoa, what a blog title.

But it's true. Written by Jonas Jonasson, this book originally came out in 2009 in Sweden. It didn't make it into English until 2012. It was eventually made into a film in 2016, but as often happens, folks stated that the book was better than the film. Surprise. I hadn't heard about it until our store chose a book to try and handsell – something light and fun. This book was the choice and everyone started reading it. And now here we are.

Allan Karlsson is about to have his 100th birthday celebrated at the old folks home in the little town of Malmkoping. But he's not too into that – he's a quiet guy and the woman running the place is kind of rude. So he decides to quit the place via window. From there he gets a bus ticket to however far his money can get him. Along the way he ends up taking a briefcase a young man asked him to watch. From there things get rather interesting considering there's a couple million in that case. Hilarity and hijinks ensue.

The book actually flips back and forth from present day with Allan to the past where we get Allan's full life story in chunks. And Allan's had an interesting life. In fact, I enjoyed his story leading up to the present even more than the silliness of the present. It reminded me of Forrest Gump in that Allan met scores of famous figures from history and was the focal point of dozens of important historical events, from the creation of the atom bomb to meeting with Mao Tse-tung. Everything is weaved in so seamlessly it's great – Allan is such an easygoing guy that he slips into situations, causes things to happen (sometimes on purpose, often not), and then leaves while the consequences rain down upon everyone else behind him. It's great.

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud or simple giggle-worthy moments, and for me this was a refreshing change from what I usually find myself faced with when it comes to fiction books. Characters I discover are often SO SAD about something; husband left, child died, traumatic event now means they're an alcoholic, they have to get back on their feet after they lost their house, etc. Now, no disrespect to those who love all sorts of fiction, but the vast majority of it isn't for me – hence why I read genre stuff. But this was totally different and exactly the sort of thing in the fiction section I'd sign up for more often. Fun, funny, lighthearted, all while still being unexpected and wholly unique.

It really is something you can enjoy reading at any time. If you need something off the beaten path, definitely give this book a go. It's just not something you'd expect, and that's what makes it such a delight.


Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Whoops! I completely forgot to mention this. Last month I reviewed Stephanie Garber's amazing book Caraval for the web blog I curre...