Review: The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Title: The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson

Published: Allen & Unwin September 2012

Synopsis: Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn’t want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But, as it turns out, Allan will not . . .Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving a suitcase full of cash, a few thugs, a very friendly hot-dog stand operator, a few deaths, an elephant and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan’s earlier life is revealed. A life in which – remarkably – he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century.

Status: Read from September 28 to October 01, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Allen & Unwin Australia}

My Thoughts:

This quirky, funny and clever novel follows the present and past adventures of the endearing Swedish centenarian, Allan Karlsson. Less than an hour before his 100th birthday celebration, Allan climbs out of the ground floor window of his nursing home with no real plan other than to avoid all the fuss. Contemplating his next move at the local bus station, he is asked to mind a young man’s suitcase and hoping it’s contents may be useful, absconds with it on the next bus out of town. What follows is an absurd adventure as Allen is hunted by the criminal gang who wants the $50million crowns in the grey suitcase back and the police concerned for his well being, all the while collecting unusual allies in his wake.

Allan’s life, we learn, is characterised by an extraordinary mix of luck and hubris. Endlessly optimistic and resourceful, as Allan travels across Sweden with the grey suitcase variously accompanied by a master thief, a hot dog seller, a red headed woman who spews profanity and an elephant named Sonya, we learn of his astounding personal history. Once an orphaned explosives expert, Allan’s skill and his willingness to go wherever life takes him leads him around the globe at the behest of presidents, prime ministers and world leaders. Primarily motivated by good food and vodka, the apolitical, atheist Allen unwittingly plays a integral part in key moments of history from the creation of the Atom Bomb to preventing the assassination of Winston Churchill and giving Richard Nixon the idea that lead to the Watergate Scandal. The intertwining past and present narratives work wonderfully to create a picture of Allan’s incredible life and somehow, despite the preposterous connections and unlikely predicaments, it is a journey that seems perfectly plausible.

Translated from the author’s native Swedish, the writer’s voice has a unique tone that works beautifully with the black humor and wry observation in this novel. The pace is excellent as Jonasson skillfully blends historical fact with fanciful fiction, eccentric comedy with social commentary.

It’s fitting that I read The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared sipping on a Vodka ‘Cruiser’, I only wish I could have shared it with Allan. Charming, sharp and inventive, this novel has earned a place on my favourites list and comes with my sincere recommendation.

Available to Purchase

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Proof ;D

If you are an Australian resident – I have great news! Allen & Unwin are offering you the chance to win one electronic edition of this novel.

Click Here to Enter

(Entries close Sunday 21st October. Winner selected via random.org)

 

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 17:20:39

    I’ve had my eye on this one–both the title and cover are so captivating. Quirky and whimsical are right up my alley, so I might see if I can hunt down a copy.

    (And yes, that looks like a blissful reading scenario right there!)

    Like

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  2. The Australian Bookshelf
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 19:29:36

    I hadn’t even heard of this book before reading your review. I’m really loving the Swedish lit that’s being translated to English at the moment, though i’ve mainly read crime fic… this quirky story sounds like a great read!

    Like

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  3. Kaitlin
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 00:20:30

    Love the picture “proof”! This is the first I’ve heard of this book, so thanks for sharing. You definitely have me intrigued to try it out for myself.

    Like

    Reply

  4. Kathy J
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 00:48:38

    This sounds like a good one. I like the cover art, too!

    Like

    Reply

    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Oct 05, 2012 @ 12:39:29

      I like the Australian and Uk covers much more than the US cover. It always amazes me how very different covers can be

      Like

      Reply

  5. Leeswammes
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 01:52:21

    Isn’t it a fun book? I loved it too. Actually, reading your review, I now want to re-read the book!

    Like

    Reply

  6. SuziQoregon
    Oct 07, 2012 @ 09:18:10

    Oh this sounds like fun! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Like

    Reply

  7. Teddyree
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 16:18:32

    I’d never have known about this one Shelleyrae and sounds like I’d have missed out on something special. Love the pic proof lol.
    Thanks for giveaway too :)

    Like

    Reply

  8. therelentlessreader
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 02:27:00

    I just grabbed this from the library yesterday, on a whim. Now I’m super excited that i did!

    Like

    Reply

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