Another book from Scandinavia this time from debut novelist Fredrick Backman. Originally in Swedish, A Man Called Ove is a universally appealing narrative about a curmudgeonly old man who seems to encounter infuriating people and annoying situations at every turn, when all he wants is to be left in peace. Since being published, A Man Called Ove has been translated into dozens of languages and has since been adapted into a Swedish feel-good film.
If you fancy a laugh-out-loud feel-good comedy in the form of a book – you will love this. Ove is the crotchety old guy that everybody knows and that some of us love to hate. Inevitably by reading the book though, you grow to love Ove. He is mean and nasty on the surface, but underneath he has a heart of gold.
He is one of those stubborn old guys you encounter in electronics shops, yelling out things and talking down to teenage sales assistants. He’s the guy shaking his fist at the clouds and muttering unintelligible swear words under his breath.
Ove is 59, but he behaves like an 80 year old, he is set in his ways, relentlessly orderly and neat and he can’t stand stupid people. He is a hardworking, working class man who has been let down by the system time and time again and so has cultivated a hard and icy exterior that hides emotional and soft regions within. As a young man, his world is turned from grey into technicolour when he meets Sonja and who is a vivid ray of sunlight to his endless pessimism.
This book by Fredrick Backman has wry, hilarious dialogue, vibrant neighbourhood characters and a fable-like quality to the back story, taking us into Ove’s life as a younger man. Ove is an everyman. Almost a symbol of what real men of a certain age become as they get long in the tooth and set in their ways. I could recognise in turn my father, my boyfriend and my brother in elements of Ove. This book will charm the pants off you and make you love life and love the grumpy old bastard that you know. He’s an Ove too.