Jonas Jonasson’s second novel carries the same theme as The 100-year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, namely the idea that the actions of one person can have far-reaching consequences.
This book follows the life of a poor girl from Soweto, called Nombeko. Nombeko is unusually smart, but since she is a black woman in apartheid South Africa, she stands no chance. She gets run over by a car and is held responsible and is forced to work for the man who ran her over. He is involved in South Africa’s nuclear bomb program and it will not surprise anyone to learn that Nombeko is instrumental to the success of the program. Eventually Nombeko manages to free herself and she moves to Sweden. Things get complicated when Nombeko finds herself in the possession of one of South Africa’s nuclear bombs and it takes a great part of her life to try to get rid of the bomb.
During Nombeko’s journey through life she meets the usual strange cast of characters as well as some heads of state. There are the crazy Chinese girls who follow her from South Africa to Sweden, twin brothers, one of which ends up marrying Nombeko and the other who is consumed with an obsession to overthrow the king of Sweden, instilled by him by his equally obsessed father.
This book is funny and touching and at times ridiculous, just what you would expect from the writer of The 100-year Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared. There is definitely a sense of deja-vu in this second book, even though this one does not have quite as many political references as the first. I enjoyed reading this book, although not quite as much as The 100-year Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared as I found there were too many similarities between both books. I think it will still appeal to a great many readers, and maybe my expectations were just too high, but I had more of a sense of disappointment at the end than of satisfaction.