~Reviewed by Rishika Dembani
Book– A Man Called Ove
Author– Fredrik Backman
Published On– 27th August, 2012
Genre– Contemporary Fiction
We always think there is enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’Fredrik Backman, A man called Ove
A man called Ove narrates the story of Ove, a grumpy old Swedish man in his late 50s. One thing that distinguishes Ove is that he likes order and routine. Anything besides his principles is unacceptable to him. Naturally, it comes as no surprise that Ove thinks himself surrounded by idiots- joggers, neighbors who can’t reverse a trailer properly, and shop assistants who talk in code, and people who think it is a good idea to drive anything besides a ‘Saab’.
Ove sees the world in black and white. But he did have color once, it was in the form of her dead wife – Sonja. Sonja is everything Ove is not, she is words and music while he is numbers. She is imaginative and spontaneous while he is evaluative and organized. Without his job and wife, he sees no purpose for him to live in this world anymore. Thus, he prepares one of the most formulated suicides ever.
He has fulfilled all his obligations- written all the instructions about his possessions and funeral on a piece of paper, paid all his bills, canceled the newspaper subscriptions. He has done everything needed to let his death pass without any complications. He is now ready to see his wife in the afterlife.
But alas, enter Parvaneh- an Iranian refugee and her outrageous family. This demented family of five turns out to be Ove’s new obnoxious neighbors. They someway or the other always find a way to interrupt his business and poke their nose where it is not needed!
In his debut novel, Fredrik Backman (a Swedish columnist and writer) presents us with one of the most heart-warming and funny books you will ever read. Backman’s lucid writing and the distinct voice of Ove with the hilarious way he sees the world gives a flavorful taste to the book.
I have read many books but what makes my experience with A man called Ove stands apart is that it is told by the viewpoint of an old grumpy 59-year-old man. And who wants that, right? Your initial thoughts on hearing this may be that it will be like a boring lecture. Wrong! The book finds its humor in Ove’s peculiar ways and ideas and it will leave you rolling on the floor laughing at the aggregate stupidity.
It follows a sullen Ove trying to settle in this ever-changing modern world and being nostalgic about the good old days. A time when he lived a peaceful life by fulfilling all his obligations as a man, earning a livelihood, and loving his wife. The book unravels why Ove is the way he is- his father, his jobs, his wedged doctrine, his love story which reminds you of ‘Up’- the beloved Disney motion picture.
It is a story of rediscovery, love, faith, and seeing color even when there isn’t any left. At times, it may appear dark in its approach as it deals with serious concepts like suicide. Nonetheless, its light-hearted tone always balances the atmosphere while being extremely perspective at the same time.
You cannot not love Ove’s comical relationship with his pet cat and his interactions with his new neighbors. However, as much as you laugh at Ove’s bizarre ways, you cannot help but applaud his loyalty and be enamored by his “giant heart”, quite literally!
This 368-page novel takes you on an unexampled journey. This is the kind of book that makes you question your lifestyle and makes you realize what is truly important in your life. There are so many morals I took away by diving into Ove’s mind; lessons on society and people, on life and death but most importantly on love.
A man called Ove thus takes you on an adventure of a seemingly not so adventurous man called Ove. It is a book that will make you laugh and cry. But most importantly, it will make you fall in love with the man himself, Ove.