Thursday, April 20, 2017

Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1579 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (July 3 2014)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English

 Book Description

 A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.


My absolute summer-reading must is A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman: perfect beach reading for a grumpy old man. It has all the minimalist delicacy of STONER, but with a delicious wry wit. The book works on a very small scale, yet it sweeps through intense life dramas, all the while remaining funny, moving, uplifting...and a cracking good tale.―Rodney Bolt, author of As Good as God, as Clever as the Devil: The Impossible Life of Mary Benson

It's warm, funny, with the laughs based on a solid grasp of character; and ultimately almost unbearably moving.Daily Mail

Delightful... there's a bit of Ove in all of us - which makes it the perfect holiday read.―Evening Standard

A warm and tender story about love, loss and second chances, peppered with memorable characters, wonderful set pieces and some beautifully black humour. Ove is a joy from start to finish.―Gavin Extence, author of The Universe versus Alex Woods

A truly remarkable story! I HIGHLY suggest reading this! It gets you in the heart. Forget The Rosie Project! THIS is the book to be reading!―

A MAN CALLED OVE is a wonderful novel that will stay with you . . . Ove's story has an underlying sadness which the author tackles with great warmth and humour . . . It's a bittersweet, heartwarming tale which will leave listeners with a restored faith in the power of friendship and perhaps even a love for cats.―Psychologies Magazine

A Man Called Ove is exquisite. The lyrical language is the confetti thrown liberally throughout this celebration-of-life story, adding sparkle and color to an already spectacular party. Backman's characters feel so authentic that readers will likely find analogues living in their own neighborhoods.―Shelf Awareness, starred review

A funny crowd-pleaser that serves up laughs to accompany a thoughtful reflection on loss and love... The author writes with winning charm.―Publishers Weekly, starred review

A charming debut...You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll feel new sympathy for the curmudgeons in your life. You'll also want to move to Scandinavia, where everything's cuter.―People

This charming debut novel by Backman should find a ready audience with English-language readers . . . hysterically funny . . . wry descriptions, excellent pacing . . . In the contest of Most Winning Combination, it would be hard to beat grumpy Ove and his hidden, generous heart.―Kirkus

Readers seeking feel-good tales with a message will rave about the rantings of this solitary old man with a singular outlook. If there was an award for 'Most Charming Book of the Year,' this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down.Booklist, starred review

About the Author

Fredrik Backman is a Swedish blogger, columnist and author. His debut novel A MAN CALLED OVE was a number 1 bestseller across Scandinavia, has sold over one million copies worldwide, was a Richard & Judy summer read in the UK and an instant New York Times paperback bestseller, and has been made into an acclaimed film. Fredrik's subsequent novels, MY GRANDMOTHER SENDS HER REGARDS AND APOLOGISES and BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE, also went straight to number 1 in Sweden on publication.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

A Man Called Ove



Ove is fifty-nine.

He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s flashlight. He stands at the counter of a shop where owners of Japanese cars come to purchase white cables. Ove eyes the sales assistant for a long time before shaking a medium-sized white box at him.

“So this is one of those O-Pads, is it?” he demands.

The assistant, a young man with a single-digit body mass index, looks ill at ease. He visibly struggles to control his urge to snatch the box out of Ove’s hands.

“Yes, exactly. An iPad. Do you think you could stop shaking it like that . . . ?”

Ove gives the box a skeptical glance, as if it’s a highly dubious sort of box, a box that rides a scooter and wears tracksuit pants and just called Ove “my friend” before offering to sell him a watch.

“I see. So it’s a computer, yes?”

The sales assistant nods. Then hesitates and quickly shakes his head.

“Yes . . . or, what I mean is, it’s an iPad. Some people call it a ‘tablet’ and others call it a ‘surfing device.’ There are different ways of looking at it. . . .”

Ove looks at the sales assistant as if he has just spoken backwards, before shaking the box again.

“But is it good, this thing?”

The assistant nods confusedly. “Yes. Or . . . How do you mean?”

Ove sighs and starts talking slowly, articulating his words as if the only problem here is his adversary’s impaired hearing.

“Is. It. Goooood? Is it a good computer?”

The assistant scratches his chin.

“I mean . . . yeah . . . it’s really good . . . but it depends what sort of computer you want.”

Ove glares at him.

“I want a computer! A normal bloody computer!”

Silence descends over the two men for a short while. The assistant clears his throat.

“Well . . . it isn’t really a normal computer. Maybe you’d rather have a . . .”

The assistant stops and seems to be looking for a word that falls within the bounds of comprehension of the man facing him. Then he clears his throat again and says:

“. . . a laptop?”

Ove shakes his head wildly and leans menacingly over the counter.

“No, I don’t want a ‘laptop.’ I want a computer.”

The assistant nods pedagogically.

“A laptop is a computer.”

Ove, insulted, glares at him and stabs his forefinger at the counter.

“You think I don’t know that!”

Another silence, as if two gunmen have suddenly realized they have forgotten to bring their pistols. Ove looks at the box for a long time, as though he’s waiting for it to make a confession.

“Where does the keyboard pull out?” he mutters eventually.

The sales assistant rubs his palms against the edge of the counter and shifts his weight nervously from foot to foot, as young men employed in retail outlets often do when they begin to understand that something is going to take considerably more time than they had initially hoped.

“Well, this one doesn’t actually have a keyboard.”

Ove does something with his eyebrows. “Ah, of course,” he splutters. “Because you have to buy it as an ‘extra,’ don’t you?”

“No, what I mean is that the computer doesn’t have a separate keyboard. You control everything from the screen.”

Ove shakes his head in disbelief, as if he’s just witnessed the sales assistant walking around the counter and licking the glass-fronted display cabinet.

“But I have to have a keyboard. You do understand that?”

The young man sighs deeply, as if patiently counting to ten.

“Okay. I understand. In that case I don’t think you should go for this computer. I think you should buy something like a MacBook instead.”

“A McBook?” Ove says, far from convinced. “Is that one of those blessed ‘eReaders’ everyone’s talking about?”

“No. A MacBook is a . . . it’s a . . . laptop, with a keyboard.”

“Okay!” Ove hisses. He looks around the shop for a moment. “So are they any good, then?”

The sales assistant looks down at the counter in a way that seems to reveal a fiercely yet barely controlled desire to begin clawing his own face. Then he suddenly brightens, flashing an energetic smile.

“You know what? Let me see if my colleague has finished with his customer, so he can come and give you a demonstration.”

Ove checks his watch and grudgingly agrees, reminding the assistant that some people have better things to do than stand around all day waiting. The assistant gives him a quick nod, then disappears and comes back after a few moments with a colleague. The colleague looks very happy, as people do when they have not been working for a sufficient stretch of time as sales assistants.

“Hi, how can I help you?”

Ove drills his police-flashlight finger into the counter.

“I want a computer!”

The colleague no longer looks quite as happy. He gives the first sales assistant an insinuating glance as if to say he’ll pay him back for this.

In the meantime the first sales assistant mutters, “I can’t take anymore, I’m going for lunch.”

“Lunch,” snorts Ove. “That’s the only thing people care about nowadays.”

“I’m sorry?” says the colleague and turns around.

“Lunch!” He sneers, then tosses the box onto the counter and swiftly walks out.

My Review

 A Man Called Ove is Fredrik Backman's first book. It is a brilliant book. It is a book about aging, a book about love and a book about relationships. It is a book about a wonderful curmudgeon named Ove who lives in Sweden. He is a revelation. And Backman is now one of my favorite authors.

A Man Called Ove reminds all of us to respect and learn from our elders. They have a lot they can teach us. It is story about aging and the effect aging has on relationships. It is a story about a cat who breaks through a crabby older man's reserve. It is a story that is a complete delight. Tears were shed.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie at some point. I found this tale so heartwarming and loving. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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