Book: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
Author: Jonas Jonasson
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.