Book Review, Fiction

Review: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared Book Cover The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
Jonas Jonasson
Humor, Contemporary
Hachette Books
Translation: Sep 11th 2012 (first published 2009)

 

"After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health. A big celebration is in the works for his 100th birthday, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his alcohol consumption), so he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey. It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: he has not only witnessed some of the most important events of the 20th century, but actually played a key role in them. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world." - Goodread


I have been interested in this book for a while, but might not have picked it up if it wasn’t for the Popsugar Challenge. I’m glad I did.
It is a delightfully bizarre book. The title tells you the important bit and also invokes the surreal playful tone of the book.


We meet Alan as he escape out of his window and go on an adventure that takes many strange, but casual twists and turns. This mirrors the second plot line that runs parallel with the main. The second focusing on Alan’s life before he was a hundred year old.


The thing I did not expect to get from this book was an engaging history lesson. It’s all fiction with lavish exaggerations and coincidences, but peppered with true facts. I left knowing more about quite a few wars than I did before.


Al the characters are caricatures. The kind of people you were told about in a bar by a man with a gold tooth and too many drinks in him. Think Guy Richie’s earlier work, e.g. Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
I can see that the wild coincidence of famous people appearing in the story might get tiring. For me it was a case of wondering: “Whose going to pop up next?” and enjoying the surprise.


So a crazy adventure with some strange people. Actually, it follows the elements of a fantasy novel, but set in contemporary times and the hero is a hundred years old.


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