I had heard a lot of people talk about this book. It seemed like everyone was reading it and that made me instantaneously suspicious of it. I generally do not like books that are hyped up, as I end up being disappointed with them due to the high expectation I had of it.
Then my mother, whose judgement in books I wholly trust, recommended it and as I was taking a wee break from editing, I thought I would give it a chance. And I was not disappointed.
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared is a hilarious story of Allan Karlsson, who, on hhis hundredth birthday decides to climb out of the window and escape the old people’s home. He had not planned to disappear, but he gets the thought in his head and acts on it immediately. He climbed into the flower bed with his bedroom slippers and sets off to live life once more.
Allan ends up at the bus station, as he is eager to leave town and there he seizes the opportunity to get away with a young man’s suitcase. From there, hilarious events ensue, interspersed with flashbacks to adventures from his past. As the reader gets to know Allan better, it becomes apparent that he is not an ordinary hundred-year-old man. He has played a key role behind the scenes in some of history’s momentous events. He has met Stalin, Truman, Franco, Mao Tse-tung, Winston Churchill and many other people of influence. Without ever seeking fame or fortune, Allan easily interacts with all these important figures without ever being intimidated. His everlasting optimism carries him through some very rough spots in his life.
I enjoyed this book tremendously. Although some of the events stretch the imagination somewhat more than usual, the book does not feel contrived, and the very far-fetched events are nevertheless interesting, amusing and entertaining. If you are looking for deep meanings in a book, this might not be one for you, but it is definitely a wonderfully entertaining book, written in a very entertaining style. In Allan Jonas Jonasson has created a person who is so much more than a character, a person who you have no trouble believing could have been real, despite all the incredible things that have happened to him. And that, to me, is the mark of a great writer and a great book.