Review: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Title: Anxious People

Author: Fredrik Backman (Translated by Neil Smith)

Published: 8th September 2020, Atria Books

Status: Read September 2020 courtesy Atria Books/Netgalley


My Thoughts:


I don’t know how it is that Fredrik Backman can write such wildly divergent stories with unique characters that nevertheless have all managed to make me both laugh and cry. Backman’s debut novel, A Man Called Ove was a favourite book in 2014, and My Grandmother Asked me to Tell You She’s Sorry in 2015. Anxious People may well be a favourite of 2020.

“This is a story about a bank robbery, an apartment viewing, and a hostage drama. But even more it’s a story about idiots. But perhaps not only that.”

Definitely not ‘only that’. Backman later adds this is also a story about bridges, rabbits, and love, about all of us doing the best we can, but really, truly, Anxious People is a story about humanity.

Life is messy, sometimes we make mistakes. In Anxious People, the bank robber’s first mistake is trying to rob a bank, and the second is (unintentionally) taking a bunch of people in an apartment hostage, though perhaps, as things go, that was not a mistake as such.

“The bank robber looked at each of them in turn for a long time. Then… whispered gratefully: “Worst hostages ever.”

The hostages are a motley, quirky collection of characters that initially perhaps present as irritating idiots but whom, by the time they are released, are endearing idiots, much as our first impression of the bank robber is of a dangerous idiot, but in the end is simply an overwhelmed idiot.

“They may not have had much in common, but they all knew what it was like to make a mistake.”

Anxious People is both wise and insightful, absurd and poignant. It explores a variety of themes including desperation, grief, compassion, relationships, capitalism, regret, connection and hope. It raises issues like divorce, parenting, religion, and suicide.

“We do our best. We save those we can.”

Anxious People is a comedy, a tragedy, a mystery and a wonderfully told story.

“The truth? The truth about all this? The truth is that this was a story about many different things…”


Available from Simon & Schuster US

Or your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound I HiveUK


Also by Fredrik Backman reviewed at Book’d Out 





15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Sep 13, 2020 @ 03:16:29

    So many themes in this one!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Sophie @ Balivernes
    Sep 13, 2020 @ 04:03:00

    Brilliant review, I’d love to read it!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Sam@WLABB
    Sep 13, 2020 @ 06:47:44

    I am not surprised by anything you said in that review. I agree. He is a masterful storyteller and crafts incredible characters. I am very much looking forward to reading this book.



  4. carhicks
    Sep 13, 2020 @ 09:31:17

    I can’t wait to get to this one. Great review, I am looking forward to something different and Backman always delivers.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Helen Murdoch
    Sep 13, 2020 @ 10:25:07

    Ok. You’ve convinced me to get this one so thank you!

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Kathryn
    Sep 13, 2020 @ 14:19:18

    You’ve totally convinced me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


  7. bookwormjillk
    Sep 13, 2020 @ 20:05:31

    I can;t wait to read this one!

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  9. Davida Chazan
    Sep 14, 2020 @ 00:32:24

    So far, since Ove came out, Backman has appeared on EVERY single one of my favorites of the year lists! This one will be there too!

    Liked by 1 person


  10. Laurel-Rain Snow
    Sep 14, 2020 @ 03:34:06

    Great review! I just bought this book…and also loved A Man Called Ove. I still haven’t read my copy of “the grandmother” book (lengthy title! LOL), but I must get to it soon.

    I will probably read Anxious People before then, however, as the grandmother book is resting comfortably on my Kindle.

    Enjoy your week.

    Liked by 1 person


  11. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
    Sep 14, 2020 @ 05:37:53

    So glad to see how much you enjoyed this one.

    Liked by 1 person


  12. Anne - Books of My Heart
    Sep 14, 2020 @ 08:59:55

    I’ve seen lots of people choosing to read this one. I’m glad it was such a hit for you!

    Liked by 1 person


  13. Trackback: #R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #BookBlogger Shelleyrae (@bookdout) #BookdOut #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020 |

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