The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared Paperback – 9 Jul 2015
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'Arguably the biggest word-of-mouth literary sensation of the decade' --The Independent
'Imaginative, laugh-out-loud bestseller' --Daily Telegraph
'Should carry a health warning for spouses or partners who are easily irritated by the sounds of helpless chortling' --The Irish Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The international bestselling sensation.See all Product description
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The story is about an old man who climbs out of the window of his care home and escapes via train. He becomes involved with criminals and other people whilst the book also looks back at his very eventful life where he seems to have been at the heart of some major world events and to have known some influential people. The message of the book is that no one is too old to really live and that the older people we see may have had more exciting lives than we can imagine. When you are reading the book you really don't have any idea what is going to happen next and the author moves the story quickly from one situation to another many of which are very funny. The book is written in a light-hearted, matter of fact manner which is a real contrast to the content and helps to make it quirky and unusual.
I did have just a slight concern that the style of the book meant that death and injury to characters was rather ignored or at least little time was given to the impact of it. The same rather applied to the many criminal acts which take place. You need not to let this bother you and read the book as a sort of modern fairytale and then you need to heed the message and regard older people in a different way in future.
That said, the book rolls along in a comedy of manners and is well written. I cannot comment on the translation, not being Swedish by birth but there is not the usual discomfort involved in reading when this is poorly done. If you want a book that, while dubious in its moral standpoint, is entertaining, and in many ways, educating, then this will do. However if you want to be able to identify with the characters, that may be a little harder.
I did enjoy reading this although I admit to having skipped towards the end where the plot became too outlandish but was satisfied with having read it. It certainly won't be in my 'read again' list but it also wasn't time wasted.
The title hides nothing. The first chapter reveals that Allan Karlsson climbs out of the bedroom window of his old people's home to avoid having to attend his own 100th birthday party. From then on the story follows his travels across southern Sweden, gathering followers and evading justice and criminals alike. I won't spoil the plot by saying why this should be so.
In regular flashbacks the book also tells Allan's life story from birth to the day of the party, including all the people he allegedly meets on the way. These are the parts where the suspension of disbelief comes in most handy. Who would have thought that Albert Einstein had a brother that was as thick as two short planks? It is quite clear that it is something of a miracle that Allan actually made it to the ripe old age of 100, but you can't help rooting for him. He's the original innocent abroad.
The writing style is relaxed and well paced, and the characters well drawn and believable. The historical figures fit neatly with what is generally accepted of them. If there are any morals to be learnt from the story then I think one of them is not to meddle in politics and the other is not to make friends in high places. A third may be to be very careful what one says when drinking vodka.
I don't know if Jonas Jonasson has any other books in the pipeline, but if he has then I will be certain to give them a try.
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