Monday, August 8, 2016

A Man Called Ove

Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Published: July 15th 2014 by Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 337 pages
Genre: Fiction

I am not usually good with translated books. Something always seems to be missing or the flow does not capture me. I went into A Man Called Ove apprehensively and came out a fan of Fredrik Backman.

Ove is the neighborhood curmudgeon, he maintains very strict rules as to the neighborhood appearance and with his daily walk, he has no problem pointing out any dereliction of duty. Cars, other than emergency vehicles, are not allowed to drive on the street, bicycles are to be put away in the shed, you must use proper tools for a job and above all, you must drive a Saab. Ove is a sad man, life has handed him one blow after another and he has decided that there is no reason to continue living. That is, until a family moves in to the house next to him and on moving day takes out his mailbox. Thus begins a sort of resurgence for Ove, a man who is not very good at dying suddenly finds friendship, love and an important to those around him.

I am not sure if "dramedy" is really a word, but it does describe this book very well. A man that has been battered by the world yet seemed to keep a very dry sense of humor. A man with a sour disposition but if you are willing to look past it, as did Parvaneh, you will see a battered puppy that just wants to be loved. Not everyone would have the patience with this man, but it does pay off for those that he allows in.

In bits and pieces, Ove’s story is told, not always in the most politically correct of terms, but that is not what he is here for. He is a straight to the point kind of man and if he has taken you on as a friend, even if you are “bent”, you will be protected in a way that no one ever (except for his beloved Sonja) had ever protected him.

This is a character driven book - even the cat has a very distinctive place and persona. Once you get to the end, you will find yourself missing each and every one of them. Fredrik Bachman is a new to me author and I will be seeking out his subsequent books – ‘My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry’, ‘Britt-Marie Was Here’ and ‘And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer’.

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