The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Sitting quietly in his room in an old people's home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn't want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But, as it turns out, Allan will not...
Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan's earlier life is revealed. A life in which - remarkably - he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century.

I just discovered this old thing stuck way back in my drafts from 2012 (!) and thought it was about time I told you how much I enjoyed this Swedish pearl of delight.

I recall it took me a little while to get into it, having just read Water for Elephants, which is also an old man remembering his past but in a more somber tone, but suddenly I was hooked and it was difficult to put down. It should be said that beyond both books being about old men recalling their youths, those two books have nothing in common. WFE is very sophisticated and fiction-real, where THYOMWCOOTWAD (what a title) is constantly taking the piss on world history and having a blast. It's somewhat similar to Forrest Gump in that regard.

I had my doubts along the way, but in the end Jonasson totally nailed it and it left me smiling and shaking my head.

It's hard to tell you much more than it already says in the summary, it's the kind of book I don't feel can be explained, it has to be read - experienced.

Furthermore, I can also tell you that the film is fantastic. It's in Swedish and with few exceptions it stays very true to the book throughout and I had such a good time watching it in the cinema at Christmas (I'm shit at publishing reviews apparently).

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
(Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann)
by Jonas Jonasson
ISBN13: 9788770534970
371 pages / published in 2006

Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2014

I've since all this read the next book by Jonasson, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden/(Orig. title is: Analfabeten som kunde räkna - the illiterate who was good at maths), and while the wacky style of stuff is the same, the book is much more winding and downright boring. It was really a let down for me.

In short I recommend The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared but not The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden.


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