The Hundred Year Old man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson
This book has two distinguishing features:
1. It has the longest title of any book so far reviewed on this site and;
2. It is the tallest tale I have read since "The Selected Works of T S Spivet".
In a way the book does what its title describes. Its core character, Allan Karlsson approaches his impending 100th birthday party in an old peoples home in Sweeden with dread and does a runner through his window. Well, maybe more of a slippered shuffle - but off he goes making good his escape on a bus with an item of considerable value to highly frustrated criminal.
The ensuing 300 pages chronicle his bizzare road chase, picking up accomplices along the way, "losing" baddies and baffling the police in black humour reminiscent of the 1950's "The Ladykillers.
But it dosn't stop there. As the month long saga unfolds in 2005, Karlssons colourful life story is also told. This is a much used literary strategy but one which is particularly well deployed in this case. Over time the two stories converge to a present day conclusion.
We are taken on a world tour of the 20th century with our reluctant and politically unaware hero both meeting most of the key world leaders and seemingly unintentionally influencing key historical events. Think Forrest Gump on steroids and you will get the picture.
I know, you are thinking that this is absurd - and it is. But the book compels you to suspend your disbelief and accept each cameo as it occurs, along with the outcomes. You will be presented with snapshots of a string of US and Soviet presidents, along with Mao, Mrs Mao, Churchill, Franco, Charles de Gaul and a host of others, and then there is the atomic bomb. Oops - did I mention the bomb? Hey this plot is so far fetched and complicated its impossible to spoil the plot - you will just have to read it.
This is a really good, funny feel good book which I read cover to cover in two days flat. If you have been given some book tokens for Christmas (who hasn't) and are looking for a good read grab a copy.