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I thought Scandinavian writers only write crime, apparently not. This is one of the funniest novels I have read in years. Heck, I can’t even remember the last time I read a funny novel because ‘funny’ is one of the hardest skills to achieve in prose without becoming pretentious.

Desperate to avoid his 100th birthday party, Allan Karlsson climbs out the window of his room at the nursing home and heads to the nearest bus station, intending to travel as far as his pocket money will take him. But a spur-of-the-moment decision to steal a suitcase from a fellow passenger sends Allan on a strange and unforeseen journey involving, among other things, some nasty criminals, a very large pile of cash, and an elephant named Sonya. It’s just another chapter in a life full of adventures for Allan, who has become entangled in the major events of the twentieth century, including the Spanish Civil War and the Manhattan Project. As Allan’s colorful and complex history merges with his present-day escapades, readers will be treated to a new and charmingly funny version of world history and get to know a very youthful old man whose global influence knows no age limit. An international best-seller, this is an engaging tale of one man’s life lived to the fullest.

I love the prose. Jonas Jonasson writes it in a way that is so matter-of-fact and the humour is so black. There are some moments I LOL but on reflection I realized that I was laughing at someone who has died. It is not so much the dying but the manner in which the unfortunate fella is disposed of that is so morbidly hilarious. The book is not just funny, it is intelligently funny because Allan Karlsson is a ‘Forrest Gump’. He didn’t just meet people like Stalin, Harry Truman, Oppenheimer, Mao and other illustrious historical figures, he frigging influenced the history that has become ours. The one I love the best is Harold Einstein… say what? That’s the half brother of Albert Einstein! If you are in the mood for something intelligently funny, grab yourself a bottle of vodka and get ready for a rollicking time. The book actually makes you feel growing old is not so bad after all. Now I have to look for the movie.

 

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