Sunday, 7 April 2013

BOOK: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson (9/10)

Why did I read it?
The wife picked this one up in the bookshop and I read it after her after reading good things about it on-line at the 50BookPledge.

What's it all about?
The book's title is fairly self-explanatory but doesn't give away the full picture. The hundred year old man in question is Allan Karlsson, who escapes from his nursing home on his one-hundredth birthday.    What the title does not allude to is that during his hundred years, Allan, by chance and due to his non-prescriptive political and religious views, subtly influenced some of the major events of the twentieth century. The story of his past combines with his latest adventure on the run from the nursing home. 

Should you read it?
The Hundred-Year-Old Man is probably the craziest story you will read all year. Both stories told; Allan's present day escape from the nursing home (the man is a hundred years old!) and the story of his life, are fascinating tales, full of unexpected twists and turns. The circumstances in which Allan travelled across the world taking part in wars, coups and revolutions reminded me hugely of the film Forrest Gump, which is by no means a criticism.

Owing to the dry sense of humour of the book's protagonist and the ineptitude of the local police force, both stories become almost black comedies. Flitting back and forward between  Communist Russia, the Korean War or pre-revolution Tehran and present day Sweden, the story never slows down in the slightest and I found it a joy to read owing to the combination of history, humour and outright fun. Another must read from Sweden.

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