Reviewed by Amanda Keats
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson may be a mouthful of a title but the book itself is far easier to digest. Beginning with the moment Allan Karlsson decides to take his old bones away from the old people's home in which he resides, this book takes the reader on an adventure of massive proportions, both in the present day and in the past.
As the book progresses, the reader is taken in two directions. Firstly, there is the adventure Allan is having as a result of his brave escape attempt – one that involves criminals, theft and the introduction of some brilliant new characters. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, there is the adventure of Allan Karlsson's life to date. Allan just so happens to have been not just present but involved with many of the key historical events from the twentieth century, whether it be the rise of Franco in Spain, the building of the atomic bomb or the Cold War. The story is written with such a dry, matter-of-fact humour that even when Allan is embroiled in some of our darkest historical events, there is humour to be found.
This book is a rarity in that the urge to get to the final page and find out what happens is not really there. However, this is not due to boredom or disinterest in the novel itself. There are so many stories within the book it is as though you are reading a gorgeous collection of short stories – in which you can easily dip in and out. The characters Allan meets along the way (some fictional, some not) are beautifully written but it is Allan Karlsson himself that carries the whole story and rightly so. He is a fascinating character, unaffected by lust or politics, brutally honest and endearing despite his self-serving nature. Quite simply, Allan goes where life takes him.
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a delight but don’t feel the need to rush through it. Take your time and savour every page of this incredible story. It is immensely fun, enjoyable, action-packed and totally adorable. You might even learn something too!
Jonas Jonasson's Website