Someone, somewhere recommended this Swedish-to-English novel and I’m so glad I picked it up. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared keeps only surnames and place names in its original Swedish and the story isn’t lost in translation. It’s funny, smart and at times, laugh out loud funny.
Everyone at Allan’s old folks’ home is about to throw a 100th birthday party for him. He dreads the idea. He’s still very healthy and eager for his adventurous life to continue, so he climbs out the window and enters a life of opportunistic crime, true friendship and general mayhem. In flashbacks we discover that Allan is a Bjorn Gump; present at various turning points in world history and because of a special skill, a catalyst for major political changes all the while professing a distaste for politics. At one point Mao Tse-tung owes him a favour and Allan gets the chance to call it in. He hangs out with President Harry Truman and gets to know Stalin. Historical accuracy? No matter. It’s too entertaining to waste time with such concerns.
In present day, Allan figures he has nothing to lose so after his great escape he takes advantage of circumstances and finds himself, along with a gaggle of newfound friends, on the run from the law. Those friends include a career criminal, the most highly educated hot-dog vendor in history, a middle-aged farm woman and her pets – a dog and an elephant that escaped from a circus. Crazy? You bet! If you’re looking for a fun read, check it out. Author Jonan Jonasson has another novel coming to the English-reading audience this April and I’ll be among the first to download it.