Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared: Jonas Jonasson, August 6—28, 2012
Without giving too much away, Allan decides to do a bunk from his nursing home on his hundredth birthday, accidentally stealing a gangster’s suitcase containing fifty million crowns. He is thereafter sought out as a missing person, fugitive and target by the police and moneyless gang.
What unfolds is nothing short of the most fun, ridiculous and bizarre romp Sweden has ever seen.
Running parallel to the present day (2005) account is a retrospective on our hero’s life, from 1905 to present. His adventures take him all over the world, hopping from the frying pan of one major world event and into the fire of the next. A plethora of world leaders feature, along with some other significant historical figures, which Allan happens upon in the most random way.
Because all of Allan’s adventures are entirely accidental, and because he rarely recognises the significance of what he is doing, it’s just mental enough to be more or less, almost credible. The absolute unlikeliness of one scatter brained, apolitical chap ambling across the globe, causing everything of relevance over the last one hundred years simply adds to the book’s unique charm. Allan meets Stalin was a particular favourite episode of mine.
The modern-day (fictitious) characters are also a colourful bunch and compliment Allan in various, fitting ways. We are treated to a short backstory for each of them too, and their pasts contribute to their current function. Writers immediately command more respect when they acknowledge their characters had lives before the plot, and are not just the sum of events since page 1. Although there is rather a clump of histories presented to us early on, they’re well worth reading.
Jonasson’s writing style is simply fantastic. Plot and characters aside, the book is entertaining purely for the writer’s narration. His writing style is warm and funny, and makes it so easy and enjoyable to just glide through the book.
While it seems impossible to conclude the drama in a sensible yet satisfactory way, Jonasson so easily pulls one thread to make the tapestry of events clear. The dénouement is perfect in every way – one you want, one that’s not cheating, very clever and incredibly hilarious.