Book review: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
The term ‘quirky’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but if you wanted to define that adjective in relation to book characters, I think you could use this novel’s as a perfect example.
The hundred year old man in question, Allan, and the people he meets throughout his life are crazily unpredictable and screwball.
We follow Allan out the window of his nursing home on the day of his 100th birthday party. He goes from one mishap to another quite merrily. And I merrily would have read the book with just this plot alone. However, the writer includes flashbacks of Allan’s various adventures (and/or misadventures) in the past. These flashbacks include many real life political figures in many sticky situations and I found these parts almost like a history lesson. (Some of these real life places and people were shown in such unfavourable ways that I wondered at how the writer wasn’t sued!) I did like how all the small strings in the flashbacks were tied up neatly by the end of the book.
The publisher called this a black comedy, but I wouldn’t have classed its humour as terribly dark. After the initial few character deaths, it lightens up considerably.
If I had a complaint, it would be Allan’s age. His general health and agility at age 100 is unbelievable, I think. I see why it was needed to make the title etc work, but still…
I also think the book could have been shorter. Towards the last few chapters, it was starting to be repetitive and drag, and I would have probably given it a higher rating if it had wrapped up earlier when I was still on a high reading it.
Overall I’d recommend it, however, especially for those who are looking for something out of the box or are sick of the normal romantic novel (there is only the tiniest sprinkling of a romantic plot in the book).