Tuesday 26 May 2015


Book review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My edition: Paperback, published on 7 May 2015 by Sceptre Books, 294 pages.

Description: 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.


Once in a while a book comes around that is so beautifully crafted that you read every sentence as carefully as possible so you can relish each word within its pages to its fullest extent. A Man Called Ove is one such a novel. I usually read three books a week on average yet when I picked up this one, which isn't very thick at all, I spent an entire week devouring the story at the lowest pace I've ever read, simply because I didn't want it to end – it was that good. 

On the surface, Ove's story doesn't seem all that distinguishable or even worth telling, but the way author Fredrik Backman talks about his stereotypical grumpy-old-man protagonist, and slowly peels back layers to Ove's persona - uncovering an entirely different person than the one the reader initially thinks him to be - is nothing short of magnificent.

When we first meet Ove he wants to die. He lost his beloved wife and doesn't have anything to live for anymore, so after making his daily rounds of the neighbourhood to check if everything is still in order he plans to take his own life. Except he's disturbed in the act when new neighbours drive into his mailbox. Having someone elses vehicle in his garden is a hindrance in itself, but it agonises Ove even more because cars aren't allowed in that part of the street, as it clearly states on the sign. 

He walks out to confront them, and to help them back out the truck out of his garden as the driver is clearly not capable to do this himself, and by doing so he starts on an unexpected journey of discovery around his own neighbourhood and the people living within it. He uncovers not only some wonderful things about the people he's always silently judged, but also about himself - and, to the reader, that is most miraculous of all.

This unique and beautiful novel is really quite different from what I expected it to be. The story is undoubtedly quirky and it's written in a terribly funny way by the author, but it also has a lot of heart at its core and really makes you think about what's hidden beneath someone's, perhaps grumpy, exterior.  

I laughed a lot and I cried a lot, sometimes even on the same page. A Man Called Ove is a really beautiful and unique story; clever, funny and deeply moving, I wish I could read it for the first time all over again!

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon or your own preferred retailer.

Many thanks to the publisher for copy of the novel through bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

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