Thursday, December 26, 2013

Challenge 2013: Book 12 - The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared

I heard it was funny, but somehow put off my the German cover. Then I read an excerpt of Jonas Jonasson's new book in my magazine, and got this book the very next day!

The Hard Facts:
Title: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared (yes, that's the title!)
Author: Jonas Jonasson
400 pages
Publisher: Hyperion, September 11, 2012
ISBN: 9781401324643

Find it at Barnes & Noble


The Story:
Allan Karlsson decides on his hundredth birthday that he is not old enough yet to celebrate it in the nursing home he lives at, and climbs out of his window. Trying to get as far away from the small town of Malkoeping, he heads for the local bus station, where he happens to get into the possession of a mysterious suitcase, which he spontaneously takes with him on the bus. He gets off in the middle of no-where, because that is how far his 50 kroner got him, and meets Julius, a petty criminal who lives all by himself in the old train station. They're sharing dinner and a couple of drinks when later that night the owner of the suitcase arrives to retrieve his possession. To cool his heated spirit, they park him in the cooling chamber, where they find him the next morning frozen stiff and quite dead. In order to escape whoever may follow the dead gang member to retrieve the suitcase, which they learned to contain 50 million kroner, they get moving on Julius' old handcar. The body is being stored in a shipping container headed for Egypt. n their lunch break at a hot dog stand, the two spontaneously hire the owner, Benny, as a driver and buy his old car to continue their journey. In the meantime, the search is on for Allan and the gang member; the police is quickly able to re-trace their steps, but are always just a little bit too late. During their journey, Allan tells his life story to his companions, of his time in a self-taught explosives-expert, his stay in a mental asylum, the time in Spain during the civil war, and his friendship with General Franco. As a gratitude for saving his life, Franco provides Allan with the funds to return to Sweden. Instead of boarding the ship to Sweden, he heads for America, where he helps solving the problem on how to build a nuclear bomb and befriends President Truman before heading for China on a mission to support the Kuomintang against Mao’s troops. Not appreciating how he is treated there, he decides to go back home to Sweden, but not without helping Mao’s bride to escape. He crosses the Himalaya by foot and ends up in Iran, where he is arrested. During his escape, he accidentally saves the life of Prime Minister Churchill and escapes to the Swedish embassy. A call to President Truman, who in turn  informs the new Swedish Prime Minister convinces the ambassador’s secretary to provide all formalities for his return to Sweden. Back in present-time, Allan, Julian, and Benny now not only run from the police who are looking for them in the disappearance of the gang member, but also from the other gang members, and end up at the remote farmhouse of Gunilla for the night. Benny falls in love with the “beautiful woman” and, as an almost-vet, helps her to heal her elephant Sonia’s leg. When Gunilla finds out that the police is searching for the three for murder, she is infuriated, but can be convinced to provide shelter for a few more days and then move on with them in a remodeled furniture truck that can accommodate Sonia. Just before they leave, the second member of the gang finds Allan and his friends, but before he can take use of his gun, he finds an untimely death under Sonia’s butt. After disposing of his body in the back of his car, which eventually ends up in a junk yard in Riga, the friends head off to stay with Benny’s brother, who can be convinced to forget their decade-long feud for a share of the 50 million kroner. On the way there, the friends are almost captured by the boss of the gang, but accidentally hit his car and decide, since Benny is an almost-doctor, to tend to his injuries on the way. Allan continues with his life story of meeting Albert Einstein’s mentally-disadvantaged half-brother Herbert, in Russia, where Allan ventured and involuntarily helps out Stalin with building a nuclear bomb as well. After ending up in a gulag, they manage to escape and flee into North Korea, where they meet both Kim Il Sung and Mao, who provide them with generous funds to thank him for having saved his wife. Yearning for some warm weather, the two of them end up in Bali where they spend their time sipping drinks at the beach. There, Herbert meets and marries Amanda, a lady of equal mental properties, who soon becomes governor of the island and later Indonesia’s ambassador to Paris. Her husband and Allan accompany her, where they get to witness a meeting between President Johnson and Charles de Gaulle before venturing back into Russia as a spy for the CIA. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union comes to an end, and Allan once again returns to Sweden where he buys and blows up a house successfully taking revenge on a fox who had killed his cat, and eventually ends up in the bleak nursing home. After the gang boss recovers from his injuries, he, too, befriends Allan, and once the police tracks them down, they all present a rather plausible story to divert any suspicion from them. And since Sweden is not too pleasant for some people with too much illegal money, the all, including Sonia the elephant, return to Bali, where Amanda now owns a large resort. Benny and Gunilla marry, and later, Allan and Amanda also find their happiness together.

My opinion:
Glorious! Such a must-read. Do yourself the favor and get it for yourself or a loved one as a late holiday present, you won't regret it! Jonas Jonasson’s writing is witty, sarcastic, and refreshingly na├»ve. His characters are indeed characters, of a very unique kind. It is a joy to follow Allan through his life; his view on everything is always so positive, with an innate feeling for fairness leading his actions. He is notoriously uninterested in politics, which helps him get along with people, and people in power all over the world. One review called it the equally ingenious but polar opposite of the other Swedish star writer, Stieg Larsson, and it's definitely not an exaggeration. This book is definitely something for interested teenagers, as it also offers a quick and entertaining walk through 20th century world history, describing the big leaders of the world as what they truly are: just people.

4 comments:

  1. Stephanie, truly sounds like a wonderful read and will so have to look into this now. Thanks so much for sharing!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is so, so funny, Janine!! I can't wait to get the next novel.. I think I'm 43rd in line or so :-)

      Delete
  2. Well, since you said it is glorious and a must read then I am definitely adding it to my list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It indees is glorious and a must read. I was the weird person spontaneously giggling and laughing in the bus :-)

      Delete