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This review is from: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden (Paperback)
It was going to be a tall order to pull off another highly original and funny novel after Jonasson’s debut, ‘The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared’, which I believe has or will soon be a film. We eagerly awaited to see what his next novel would be like and hoped that it would still be good, and although I personally have a slight preference for his debut, this is still another great tale.
Those who have read his first book will remember that in places there were echoes of ‘Forrest Gump’; as you start to read this novel you see echoes of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ at the beginning, although set in South Africa. We meet Nombeko Mayeki who is born in the Soweto slums and to put it politely is what in this country used to be called a night soil person. But Nombeko soon learns to count and become literate, despite things being against her and the other blacks in an apartheid country. From these humble beginnings by fourteen years of age she is running the refuse centre, but her life takes a dramatic turn, and she ends up working at a secret facility for building an atomic bomb (Jonas Jonasson loves his atomic bombs). Although a cleaning lady Nombeko it has to be admitted becomes more or less the brains behind the research facility.
Of course things don’t go to plan, as ultimately Nombeko finds that her boss has created seven atomic bombs instead of six, and has to get rid of the extra as political events change. Thus Nombeko finds herself seeking asylum in Sweden, being lumbered with an atomic bomb and three Chinese sisters who only really know how to make fake antique pottery. With Mossad also on her trail could things get any worse? Well there is romance, and the fact that she is now living with identical twins, although one of these doesn’t officially exist. Both twins were indoctrinated by their father and his obsession with the Swedish monarch, but only the first twin still seems affected by this. Add an American soldier from the Vietnam War who thinks the CIA are after him, and a Swedish woman who likes to protest against everything and you know that once more you have entered the weird and quirky world of Jonasson.
This is a farce that will have you laughing out loud and wondering how the author came up with the plot, and at the same time with enough biting satire to make you think about certain things. But ultimately the thing is, lumbered with an atomic bomb and trying to get rid of it may not be the easiest of things, especially if you want to do it legitimately, so will Nombeko ever get rid of a bomb that has become a shackle for her? Once again with his original and quirky humour Jonasson shows us that Swedes do have a sense of humour and it is pretty far out there.