by Jonas Jonasson
I TOOK TO this story like a leaf to the sky, leisurely floating in whatever direction the wind took. I was swept along with centenarian Allan Karlsson in The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson, from the moment he spontaneously escapes from the Old Folk’s Home a day before his 100th birthday celebration; and embarks on an adventurous and amusing journey involving a petty thief, the eternal student, the Beauty and her elephant, the gangster boss, a Chief Inspector, a couple of dead bodies, and a suitcase stuff with $50 million.
This would seem like an epic adventure for anyone. Except, it isn’t for Allan. “Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in [altering] them.” With such luck that bordered on the absurd, he marginally survives these dangerous historical events, giving him a backstory that is larger-than-life.
It wasn’t by design but rather life’s obligations that kept me from writing a review shortly after finishing this book. I’m glad for that because the little delay gave me an opportunity to reflect upon and appreciate the mastery of Mr. Jonasson’s writing even more. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is hilarious but not in an obvious and laugh-until-your-belly-aches kind of way. Rather, it is funny in a subtle and smart way. While the events are wildly inventive and not too realistic, I enjoyed it nonetheless for its enduring charm and silly comedic relief. After all, it’s not everyday that I read about a character that resembles my late grandfather – funny, kind, worldly – who could never turn down a glass of…rice wine. Well, it could have very well been vodka, too.
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