It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and 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, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun and feel-good book for all ages.
I loved The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson right from the start. The title itself just sums up the story so well, it is long, and diverse like the age of the main protagonist Allan, and it whets the reader’s curiosity by being so crazy sounding.
What’s not to love about a hundred year old man who climbs out of his old folks home to escape his own wretched birthday party?
The party organiser, Director Alice, isn’t exactly a bundle of riotous laughs, she’s a party pooper if there was ever one, so it’s no wonder that strong minded Allan opts out. There is something so appealing and admirable about this centenarian who still has that spirit of adventure well and truly centre place in his heart, even if he is not quite as quick on his feet and his bladder control is somewhat lacking!
The Hundred-Old Man had me chuckling, and thoroughly entertained throughout.
This is a very cleverly executed book, it manages to take us on a journey to diverse parts of the world, Sweden, Russia, USA, and encompasses such a wide range of genres in one book: humour, romance, an adventure story, shifting time periods, from orphan Allan’s present to his very fascinating past as an explosive expert, referencing major events and names in history and world politics, such as Stalin, Oppenheimer, Harry Truman, Charles D Gaulle, Lyndon Johnson, Winston Churchill, ….. which astound the reader with Allan’s part in them verging on the extreme scale of preposterous but somehow still manage to retain an element of far-fetched believability for the narrative to be successful. The author manages to carry this off by sticking to the novel’s premise and allowing The Hundred Year Old Man to be an extreme case of crazy from the very start to the finish line. I liked that!
WARNING: Readers beware, you must be willing to suspend rational belief, and join in this adventure in a light hearted way, or this novel will just not work for you.
Allan is on the run, (except he can’t run,) from the police after stealing a suitcase full of cash from a young man, his actions are justified in the following manner: “When life has gone into overtime it’s easy to take liberties,” thereafter the reader would suppose that the young man, (who turns out to be a criminal element,) would be a serious threat to Allan’s wellbeing. Wrong. Don’t let Allan’s age fool you, rascal Allan is not to be trifled with!!
On his crazy travels this non-politically driven, Vodka swilling ancient befriends a petty thief, a hotdog stand owner who has made it an art form to study as many subjects as he can, (the list of his almost occupations are long and varied!): a doctor, welder, vet, literature expert, etc, etc, and a red haired lady, renamed the Beauty, with a penchant for expressing herself with expletives, who is the proud owner of a dog and a pet elephant called Sonya.
A series of unfortunate events happen, which don’t seem to phase Allan at all, including several murders giving rise to wave after wave of black humour. So you name it, this novel has it all in extreme bucketful’s. In fact in my opinion, it packs an almighty explosive punch, that gets your belly heaving with laughter!!
So definitely without a doubt The Hundred Year Old Man is one to grace my favourites shelf, and if you haven’t read it what are you waiting for? Go get a copy….
My rating: 5 loud preposterous crazy chuckling stars!!
Doctors Prescription: Preferably consume with a strong shot of Vodka (Allan’s favourite drink,) to increase your reading adventure.
Have you read The Man Who Climbed Out of The Window? If you have do let me know your opinion…
Just some of my favourite quotes:
“Allan looked at the bus and then at the suitcase, then again at the bus and then again at the suitcase. It has wheels, he said to himself. And there’s a strap to pull it by too. And then Allan surprised himself by making what – you have to admit – was decision to say ‘yes’ to life.”
“People could behave how they liked, but Allan considered that in general it was quite unnecessary to be grumpy if you had the chance not to.”
“Never try to out drink a Swede, unless you happen to be a Finn or at least a Russian.”
“There are only two things I can do better than most people. One of them is to make vodka from goats’ milk, and the other is to put together an atom bomb.”
“I shall destroy capitalism! Do you hear! I shall destroy every single capitalist! And I shall start with you, you dog, if you don’t help us with the bomb!’
Allan noted that the had managed to be both a rat and a dog in the course of a minute or so. And that Stalin was being rather inconsistent, because now he wanted to use Allan’s services after all.
But Allan wasn’t going to sit there and listen to this abuse any longer. He had come to Moscow to help them out, not to be shouted at. Stalin would have to manage on his own.
‘I’ve been thinking,’ said Allan.
‘What,’ said Stalin angrily.
‘Why don’t you shave off that moustache?’
With that the dinner was over, because the interpreter fainted.”
“Imagine that, death was just like being asleep. Would he have time to think before it was all over? And would he have time to think that he had thought it? But wait, how much do you have to think before you have finished thinking?”
Bye for now, hope to see you soon….
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Marie, a great review of a most unusual and brilliant book. There seems to be a new genre in these types of books but I’m not sure many hit the mark as this one.
Hi Annika, yes it certainly is unusual and quite brilliant. All the best, Marje, (not Marie, xx)
I’m sorry, Marje. Of course I know your name – slip of the fingers or this very annoying autocorrect on the iPad. Talking of unusual books, have you read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry ? I can highly recommend that, just stick with it past the first few pages then it has you hooked.
No worries Annika. I think my dad wanted to call me Maria, (from West Side Story,) but in the end they opted for Marjorie…. Thanks for the bookish tip I’ve heard of that and it did sound one to read…
sounds great, I will add it to my ‘want to read’ list
Loved it although I did find it a bit far-fetched!
Couldn’t argue with that!!
Well, with such a hearty recommendation how can I not put it on my TBR list? 🙂 Brilliant review, Marje!
Thank you so much Ramona, it’s wonderful to get feedback, enjoy… 🙂
Like I said before, we definitely have similar thoughts about this book. It’s the perfect mix of fantasy and historical fiction and I caught myself laughing out loud quite a bit while I was reading it. I really should read his other novel some time soon as well! Great review. 🙂
So glad you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for saying it was a Great review that means so much. Appreciate it…. 🙂