The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who…..

Imagine for a moment that Douglas Adams had taken time off from the writing Hitchhikers Guide and instead written Forrest Gump. Chances are pretty high that you’d end up with The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. This novel with a mouthful of a title is a breezy read and a lot of fun.

The book follows two parallel threads – one is the present time which starts off when Allan Karlsson decides to skip his hundredth birthday celebrations, jumps out of the window of his old age home and has a hilarious adventure with a motley of characters; the second thread is like a flashback and we see that Allan has had a hand in seemingly every major world event in the 20th century from building the atom bomb to ensuring Mao Zedongs rise in China. Eventually both threads dovetail neatly into a coherent end. While the former strand of the novel is funny enough, it is really the encounters that Allan has with historical characters(Harry Truman, Stalin and Kim Il Jong are especially laugh-out-loud ones) that make the book shine.

Jonas Jonassons first book is wonderfully imaginative and given the language, prose and structure I suspect that translator Rod Bradbury deserves a not insignificant share of the praise. Honestly, I cant recommend this book enough; beg-borrow-steal a copy and read it.

P.S – Due to the relative obscurity of this author I believe this book isn’t racking up high sales in Indian bookstores. Looked at positively, this means most outlets(Crossword and Landmark are the ones I checked) either have a discount or a good offer on it; so if you want to buy a copy now is a good time.

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