on August 31, 2012
Allan Karlsson climbed out of the window without any particular destination im mind. He just wanted to escape the party celebrating his 100th birthday. Not a slave to fashion, he wasn't even wearing shoes, just some brown slippers. He made his way to the bus station and got on a bus with a stolen suitcase. Then the fun really begins. Not only do we learn about what happened after he climbed out of the window, but also about many of the adventures in his very long life - all of them highly improbable, zany, and hilarious. Especially ingenious is the way the author connects Allan with some of the famous historical people of the 20th century, among them Harry Truman, Mao Tse Dong, Josef Stalin, and Lawrenti Beria. And you are going to love Herbert (no, not Albert) Einstein, not to mention his wife Amanda.
This is a wonderful, crazy, fun-filled book.
on December 25, 2012
REVIEW: THE ONE HUNDRED-YEAR OLD MAN
The back cover of this witty and droll novel compares it with Forest Gump but that is a very superficial comparison. Jonassun's novel is much deeper, incisive and more relevant than Gump. The author takes the opportunity to use a centenarian's exploits not merely to place him alongside famous figures or events but to draw incisive caricatures of a wide array of historical figures from Harry Truman to Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin, Charles DeGaulle and Richard Nixon. Each caricature is well-drawn, according to the author's disposition and each contains kernels of accuracy, although there is much left to debate.
But debate is not really what this book is all about. This is a whimsical, absurdist adventure that is amenable to quibbling at every turn. But why bother? Why not just have fun and go along for the ride? That's what I did and despite my penchant for historical accuracy, I am a stickler on that count, I managed to put it aside and just have a good time, a snicker here and there, and an occasional laugh. This book is amusing, quick read and best of all, downright first-class entertainment. So toss aside your politics, save your quibbles for a different book and just have fun with an impossibly unbelievable centenarian who manages to get into and out of a myriad situations, each one of which would be the death of any real life character.
on October 21, 2012
The Hundred Year Old Man is a quirky, funny and unusual novel which not only provided some light entertainment, but also brought back memories of history lessons at school all those years ago - maybe I should have paid more attention then! Had our teacher presented the dry facts of major political events in the same fashion Jonas Jonasson manages to do by re-writing the history books with the help of his very unusual hero Allan, we would certainly have shown more interest.
There were many moments when I laughed out loud during reading this novel. I could vividly picture Allan climbing out of his window on the morning of his 100th birthday and escaping the nursing home - I bet that many hundred year olds biding their time in such a facility have entertained thoughts of doing the same! But Allan is no ordinary hundred year old (if such a thing exists - all the hundred year olds I have met have been extra-ordinary and amazing people). He is also blessed with a mischievous spirit, a wicked sense of humour, an addiction to vodka and 9 lives. Blissfully ignorant as far as politics are concerned, he is blessed with wonderful common sense and the ability to take each person at face value, which lands him in the most bizarre situations with the most unusual characters. Jonasson's imagination has no limits where his protagonist is concerned - as the novel progresses and Allan's past is revealed, he makes an appearance and plays a leading role in some of the most fundamental political events in last century's history. With his colourful (and explosive) background it is no wonder that the hundred-year-old Allan manages to get into trouble as soon as he has left the nursing home behind.
I have read several reviews which compared this novel to Forrest Gump. Indeed, Allan's involvement in certain key historical events brings back memories of the movie, but that is where the similarity ended for me. There is nothing sentimental or deep in this quirky tale of adventure and mischief, except that perhaps we should take a closer look at our senior citizens instead of labelling them as simply "old". Allan may be advanced in years, but he could give most of us a run for our money, and his rich personal background makes most other lives pale in comparison. I loved Allan's outlook in life - whatever is meant to happen will happen. Even in the face of his own death (several times) he is not worried or stressed.
Jonasson's novel made a delightful change from the seriousness of life - this tale is light-hearted and fun, finds the bright side of most situations and doesn't take itself too seriously. By defying the boundaries of truth as we know it, Jonasson has created a light, enjoyable and funny story which can be enjoyed by all ages and both genders alike. My husband is currently reading it, and I'm sure he will get as many chuckles out of it as I did - if maybe at different things. I loved Jonasson's writing style - with his black sense of humour, no-nonsense language and keen observations, his statements hit exactly the right spot. Make sure to have a glass of icy cold vodka ready when you read this book - to toast the hero of the story, who would surely appreciate the sentiment.
on October 22, 2012
Jonasson's story made me laugh or smile on almost every page. "The 100-Year-Old-Man..." is well-written fun but also historically well-researched. Its tone is matter-of-fact but its story is absurdly rollicking. Modern day mahem cleverly intertwined with twisted history. Read it with joy especially if you're a little tired of books making you tense or teary.
on June 20, 2015
When I saw this book I knew I had to grab a copy as a gift for my brother in law's father who turned 100 last week. (Happy Birthday Zach! photo below!) When I noted it had sold 5 million copies and was being released as a movie, I skimmed it and decided it would be an interesting read. And it was. Sort of a "Forrest Gump" for seniors as some of the characters included his the review of his life and wanderings include Harry Truman, General Franco, Stalin, Mao Zedong and others and include descriptions of his assisting in the development of the atomic bomb while working as a janitor as Los Alamos. Some of the fictional characters are great - Einstein's dumber half brother, for example and the twists and turns of his life, though farfetched are interesting. All in all, a fun read. Take a copy to the beach!
on April 2, 2013
I lost sleep last night to finish reading "The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared," a brilliant, ridiculous, amusing, fabulous read. No wonder it's a best-seller worldwide!
on September 6, 2012
Good fun if you're looking for light entertaining nonsense with a history lesson thrown in at various stages along the way. The only part of your brain being stretched most of the time is your credulity, but don't let that stop you from reading it if it's good escapist fun you're after.
on September 11, 2012
The Hundred-Year-Old Who Climbed Out Through the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson is a fictional book which follows the adventures and mis-adventures of its protagonist. So far this book has been translated to 29 languages and has been a best seller in many countries.
Allan Karlsson's health is good, so good that to his dismay he is facing the horrors of putting up appearances for this 100th birthday. Leaving the mayor, the press, his friends and the bane of his existence - the nurse - behind, he escapes moments before the big celebration. When a young man asks Allan to keep an eye on his suitcase at the train station, the centenarian steals it and sets the ball rolling on a month long chase involving the police, the underworld and a handful of accomplices.
Parallel to the escape, Allan's long life is revealed to the reader. As it turned out, Allan is not just an old man with a suitcase, but one of the most influential persons to ever walk the face of the earth in the 20th Century. Alas, through the comedy of life, Allan is only remembered for his age.
The Hundred-Year-Old Who Climbed Out Through the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson is a hilarious romp through the 20th Century. The book is very enjoyable and doesn't take itself seriously.
The book's characters focus on lampooning the espionage genre and parody the mystery/chase genres as well. The important people Allan Karlsson, the protagonist, has met and influenced (Truman, Churchill, Mao, Lenin and more) shines a light on their dark side rather than the pillars of world affairs we have built them to be. Allan's contribution to the Manhattan Project doesn't get bypassed either.
While I did get the feeling that the book was very much influenced from Forrest Gump and/or Woody Allen's Zelig. Allen Karlsson is the eternal optimist, half way through the book it is clear that nothing will happen to him, but it is how he gets out of trouble and his unbelievable luck and improbable coincidences which makes the book so entertaining and endearing.
The characters are not as well defined as they could be, but I still enjoyed this book very much, especially since it doesn't take itself seriously.
on May 14, 2016
I don't usually write reviews, but there's such a discrepancy between the Amazon rating and the actual quality of the book that I felt moved to write.
First of all, I'll say this book is very readable. Readability is difficult to achieve and generally undervalued by book critics. Writing something that is easy to read is maybe the most important skill a writer can have.
So, the book does not ask for a big investment of effort or time from the reader. But, even so, it gives basically nothing in return. The behavior and series of events are both so absurd that the book can only be a farce, which of course it is, but it isn't funny enough to be a farce. It isn't funny in any case really.
I say it doesn't ask much of the reader, but actually it asks for a big suspension of disbelief. The main issue the reader has to disregard is the sociopathic apathy toward death and suffering all of the characters have. Actually, not just death and suffering, the characters are all unconcerned with everything. The main character causes many people's deaths and feels nothing whatsoever about this. His best friend is blown to bits in front of him and he has no reaction. He is sterilized and has no reaction. He spends years in a concentration camp and doesn't mind at all. Another character has 50 million dollars stolen from him, and basically doesn't bring it up at all.
This story is compared, with good reason, to Forrest Gump. Both stories have a happy-go-lucky oddball who happens to play some part in major events in world history. But with Forrest Gump, his low intelligence lends some kind of credibility to his floating through these events Mr. Magoo style, furthermore, Gump is affected by these things and exhibits much pathos despite the light, goofy, sweet tone of the film. In 100 Year Old Man, Allan the main character, we must assume, is just some kind of psycho, and we as the readers are supposed to be on his side due to his charm and cunning, but unfortunately he isn't charming or cunning. The cunning thing is especially problematic, since all of his antagonists are too stupid to even need outwitting.
Again, I understand that the book is silly and we are supposed to relax and go along for the ride, but the ride doesn't go anywhere. There characters are completely flat and boring. Conflict is all but non-existent. The historical bits that are weaved in never go beyond the basic superficial world history we learned in grade school so are not compelling. There's no wit, only stupidity.
I don't know why we're expected to like or root for a man who's responsible for so much death and feels no shame about it.
This book is the equivalent of a movie I would watch on an airplane - where the fact that it doesn't engage me in any way is actually a plus. If you want to read a book but do not want to think about what you're reading, if you want a book that is like reading nothing, then this is a good book to read.
on March 18, 2015
This book was self consciously cute and not particularly clever at disguising its criticism of political history and current social customs in the guise of a life story of a Forrest Gump like Everyman. As a book club selection it was necessary to read it but it's silliness made it nearly impossible to finish with any degree of respect.