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The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Review

Book: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Year: 2009
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

There are only two things I can do better than most people. One of them is to make vodka from goats’ milk, and the other is to put together an atom bomb.

The book was suggested, and delivered, by Bookhad’s other half. Apparently, I was reading morose books which blackened my perception towards the future. I couldn’t agree more.

The books that I had been reading the past year weren’t doing me any good and I looked forward to read something light. I turned to the other half and, voila, the book was sent within 2 days. The other half has been reading books from around the world and I wasn’t surprised I was sent a swedish book.

Allan Karlsson was soon turning 100 and he decided that he didn’t want to really celebrate it with Director Alice and the other inmates at the old age home. He and Alice could barely look each other in the eye without arguing and fighting and arguing some more. He’s sick of it all. So he does what anyone would do who wanted to escape.

Jump out the nearest window.

The title of the book is self explanatory that there is really no reason for a plot device. Allan jumps out without a plan and simply starts walking. He walks to the nearest Bus station and decides to take a ticket for the money he’s got. But before that he runs into a young man with a suitcase and long greasy blonde hair. The book takes off and never looks back. It’s not a fast paced thriller or a page turning murder spree, but it has what would make a reader just turn one page after another without hesitation. No doubt, there are a lot of murders, but the narrative of the writer is such that we don’t really feel bad. Even when Allan’s father dies his mother says to herself, “Couldn’t you have chosen to die in a less idiotic manner?”

Allan hadn’t just turned a 100 today, he’d lived a 100. His life opens a little at a time and history spreads its elaborate skirts encompassing Truman and J.R. Oppenheimer and General Mao along with Stalin and Kim-Jong II and Winston Churchill. Allan has a life’s story fresh out of the biography of multiple spies who lived to tell their tale; or one spy who was SO awesome that he was never caught. In short, Allan’s life was rife with political anecdotes and inclusions in many of history’s turning points.

While growing up, and after his father’s death, young Allan worked with Nitroglycerine Ltd. and became an expert in anything that needed to blowing up. Once he learnt everything that he could he open his own business under the moniker Karlsson Dynamite Company. After rather very interesting childhood he finds his way to New York and finds a job serving coffee in the very office where Oppenheimer and other physicist are trying really hard to get their A- bomb to work. 

From helping the Americans getting their bomb to work to helping Mao Tse-tung’s third wife Jiang Qing from being raped, Allan’s life was a never ending circus. He manages to enrage Stalin at his dinner table and escapes the Gulags by impersonating a commissioner.

So, when he jumps out of the window it was more out of boredom than fear. Director Alice  might’ve been a problem, but Allan was never one to fear such an insignificant problem. So, after running into the greasy blonde young man who left his suitcase in his care because he wanted to “take a dump”, Allan did everything the exact same way he did when he was young. On an impulse.

His bus arrived and the blonde didn’t. So he simply took off with the suitcase instead of missing the bus and risk getting caught by the police for having escaped. He meets Julius who has made the old station building his home and the new adventure of Allan begins. 

Oh, the suitcase? It belonged to the mercenary and drug mafia gang called “Never Again” and contained a 100 Million Crowns!

Chief Inspector Aronsson on one hand and Boss Gerdin, the mafia boss, on the other hand hunt Allan along with newer friends that he makes on his way. Allan swirls around problems and roadblocks with ease, trusting his new friends (and sharing the bounty equally). and using the simplest of logic to overcome them.

This is the first book I’ve read by a Swedish writer and have enjoyed it mostly. There is one thing that I want to point out, though. The humour level of the book isn’t what it’s made out to be. It’s NOT a very funny book. It’s got a nonchalance style of delivery and it’s mostly straight faced humour that lies in the language, I suppose. It’s probably lost in translation. At times, the joke falls flat on its face and refuses to be resuscitated. 

That said, it’s a good enough book that kept me company on some real dark days and helped me get out of the hole I had dug for myself. 


Doctors – Review

Book: Doctors
Author: Erich Segal
Year: 1988
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A real physician almost never seeks another doctor’s help. For they all are painfully aware of just how little anybody understands about curing the sick.

Continue reading “Doctors – Review”

Habibi – In Pictures

Book: Habibi
Author: Craig Thompson
Year: 2011
Bookhad Rating: —

Departing from the usual review format, this post will not delve into the merits and pitfalls of reading a novel and its larger social context. Instead, we’re going to give you a series of reasons to decide for yourself if you want to read this massive graphic novel. Whether you, as a reader, end up tired by the narrative or appreciate the whole as it is greater than the sum of its parts, is up to you. Continue reading “Habibi – In Pictures”

The Spice Box Letters – Review

Book: The Spice Box Letters
Author: Eve Makis
Year: 2015
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

When Eve Makis was writing The Spice Box Letters, her literary agent left her because the agent believed, “No one cares about the Armenian genocide.” It’s rather ironic the scant storytelling of the Armenian genocide in popular literature given that it is the second-most studied extermination of an entire race after the Holocaust, and it resulted in the systemic elimination of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman government in Turkey. Published in 2015, the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, The Spice Box Letters traces the stories of two Armenian siblings violently separated during their deportation from Eastern Turkey in 1915.  Continue reading “The Spice Box Letters – Review”

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Review

Book: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Author: Ken Kesey
Year: 1962
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

He knows that you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.

Continue reading “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Review”

Brave New World – Review

Book: Brave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
Year: 1931
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

“All right then,” said the savage defiantly, I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
“Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat, the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.”
There was a long silence.
“I claim them all,” said the Savage at last.”

Continue reading “Brave New World – Review”

Dept. of Speculation – Review

Book: Dept. of Speculation
Author: Jenny Offill
Year: 2014
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

That one was so beautiful I used to watch him sleep. If I had to sum up what he did to me, I’d say it was this: he made me sing along to all the bad songs on the radio. Both when he loved me and when he didn’t.

Quite possibly the only book I will ever dog-ear. All of it.

The book I will read four times a year.

The book I will keep on my bookshelf, on my phone, on my Kindle, on my office desk.

The book I will write notes about to my husband, who is yet to come. Continue reading “Dept. of Speculation – Review”

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