Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

by Jonas Jonasson
387 pgs

The old folk's home that Allan Karlsson lives in is about to throw him his hundredth birthday party. But Allan, who's tired of all the rules imposed on him there, and who still feels like he has some life left in him, doesn't want to go, nor does he want to spend one more day there. Instead, he climbs out the window, wearing his slippers and carrying very little money, and leaves.

Allan walks to the bus station, asks how far his money will take him, and buys a ticket. While he's waiting for his bus, an arrogant young man asks him to watch his suitcase while he uses the restroom. Allan agrees, but as his bus prepares to depart, he makes a spur-of-the-moment decision and gets on the bus, taking the suitcase with him.

Thus begins a journey that will find Allan pursued by the police, the media, and the drug dealer, who wants his suitcase back, along with the 50 million Swedish krona inside it.

As Allan continues on his journey, he crosses paths with an assortment of quirky and hilarious characters. He also seems to be blessed with nine lives, because each time the drug dealer, and the organization behind him get close to catching him, Allan comes through unscathed, and those pursuing him meet entertaining, but untimely deaths.

This is Swedish author Jonas Jonasson's first book. It was published about six years ago, and has since sold millions of copies around the world--and rightly so. Jonasson has created a fantastic character in Karlsson, and as he tells his life's story throughout the book, you learn that he met Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin, Mao, and others. You learn that he played a pivotal role throughout the Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R, from the creation of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, to the eventual demise of the Soviet Union in the late '80s. Karlson just happened to be present for, and play a pivotal role in many of the most important events in world history, all while simply trying to get another glass of vodka.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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