Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson
Publisher: Hesperus Press
Published: 12th July 2012
RRP: £8.99

  Funnily enough, this is the story of an elderly man named Allan Karlsson who on his 100th birthday decided he had had enough of the constraints of living in an old people’s home so climbed out of the window and disappeared.  The title pretty much says it all really.  Allan does not literally disappear but instead embarks on an exciting adventure where he meets a plethora of unique and extraordinary characters including gangsters, hot dog stand owners and an elephant whilst managing to evade the police desperately trying to locate him.

  Unlike the stereotypical portrayal of the elderly as weak and feeble, this book characterises Allan as a strong-minded, witty man, completely able to defend himself, at times a little too well.  An interesting character, the Jonasson has used Allan’s age to be able to intertwine elements of 20th Century History, in a very Forrest Gump-esque style.  

  It is a good, solid read, with plenty to hold your interest but for me I felt there was something lacking.  Throughout the book, from start to finish I felt as though I was reading a screenplay and not a novel.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, except a novel is what Jonasson set out to write.  Books to me should make you feel part of the world you are reading about, you should know the characters as you know your friends; this is achieved through the depth of the description that the author uses.  Yet I felt like an observer throughout this read, there wasn’t the development of the world for me to feel part of just the description of one event followed by another.  

  I think this would make a great Swedish arthouse film of a similar style to ‘Let the Right One In’, but to me it wasn’t quite the full package as a book.

Rating: 6/10