A Man Called Ove: a novel

“It was five to six in the morning when Ove and the cat met for the first time. The cat instantly disliked Ove exceedingly. The feeling was very much reciprocated” (5).
It is a rare event when I choose to read a “New York Times Bestseller.” With a superior attitude toward the printed word that only a librarian can carry off, I have often been heard commenting to my students who are excitedly talking about yet another James Patterson Middle-School title, “Just because it is on a bestseller list doesn’t mean it’s a well written book.” I am sure we can all be counted among those who, when closing the last page of some wildly popular title muse – to know one in particular – perhaps a cat – “I could have written that dribble!” Perhaps “we” are the same people who, when walking into any museum of modern art, confronted by a masterpiece of enigmatic talent, comment, “My kid could have painted that!”
Back to my friend, Ove. Anyway, in a moment of utter exhaustion, having plodded through a variety of titles that will never appear on this blog, a book club member carelessly threw out this statement: “Oh, I have this book about a grumpy old man, and it’s funny.” I grabbed it as I walked out the door into the night, revived, with the knowledge that at least there may be a laugh or two in store.

Ove is a lovable, grumpy old man. Yes, he is. He has no need of filtering of his thoughts, before his words are barked at others; neither does he care if he offends. Anyone. Everyone. Yet, throughout this deftly written and translated novel, set in the most mundane of lifestyles, you begin to empathize, care, and perhaps even understand him a bit. The. cast of neighbors, both animal and human, are perfectly crafted foils spanning a broad range of personalities, body types, ethnic groups and stereotypical personas.

Just an addendum: it is a rare thing for both my husband and I to read the same book – yes, the very same, physical copy – but we took turns – back and forth – day and night. It is even a rarer thing for both of us to enjoy the same book. We did.

Thank you, Linda.

Backman, Fredrik. A Man Call Ove: a novel.  New York: Washington Square Press, 2014. Print


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