Genre: General Fiction Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book
It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not…
Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police.
As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
There is no way to described this book other than a hysterical farce. This is very much my sort of humour – coincidence, ridiculous but consistent logic, and the whole thing treated as perfectly normal. I originally read this maybe four years back, when my mum passed me her copy, and even with a vague idea of what was coming, it was still side-splitting.
Both the “present day” adventure involving a suitcase, a gang, several accidental murders, an elephant, a very incompetent police force, and a lot of alcohol, and “the past” where Allan drinks his way through conversations and mishaps with nearly all the significant leaders of the 20th century are told in such a matter of fact tone.
This makes the events all the more ridiculous, as it presents Allan’s involvement in the nuclear programmes of half a dozen countries as completely normal and brings out his unfussed character. He’s so pleasant and obliging, that he doesn’t find it odd that he’s talked to Mao, Stalin, Truman, and more.
The present day is probably the funnier bit, because the series of events – and the mess the police make of it, though it is an insane series of events that would be hard to come up with for any officer – unfolding in the present makes the past seem utterly normal. Converting a bus into a getaway vehicle capable of holding an elephant? A trail of dead bodies that conveniently get out of their way? The sheer absurdity of it can best be summed up by the story they eventually concoct to tell the police.
I’m quite excited to see where the sequel goes. I didn’t actually know there was one, but discovering it prompted this re-read. The mad, laugh-out-loud story is the perfect thing for now.
Read my reviews of other books by Jonas Jonasson:
The Hundred-Year-Old Man (this series):