The most recent review by No Frontiers is Jonas Jonasson’s ‘The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’. Published originally in 2009 in Sweden, it was translated into English by Rod Bradbury. This novel is an adventure in every possible way! The chapters alternate between Allan’s past and present adventures. It is both a comedic tale and yet a preposterous, farcical survey of twentieth-century history.
Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn’t want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But, as it turns out, Allan will not….
Escaping (in his pee slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan’s earlier life is revealed. A life in which – remarkable – he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century!
A variety of opinions ensued regarding the book from the No Frontiers gang. Some felt it was so funny you just had to continue with every new page. Others felt it was so monotonous in places and had to give up – although they vowed to go back to it and complete, however arduous the task! Others enjoyed the beginning of the book and believed the historical parts to be boring and uninteresting. But all agreed that the character of Allan was ruthless, moralless and yet lovable. One couldn’t help but support and encourage him on his crazy, erratic adventures. As for Sonya, the elephant, one reserves judgement! And an elephant on a bus…
A centenarian Forest Gump was suggested by one member of No Frontiers. A very accurate description was confirmed by the others; Allan sees no harm in anyone and yet remains an immoral character throughout.
Jonasson himself calls the book ‘a feel good novel’. That it certainly is. No Frontiers all agreed that it definitely is ‘a feel good novel’ and we all hope that we are fit and able to go on an adventure when we reach 100 years old. And perhaps enjoy a glass of wine or two then also!