Book Review: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window…

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson


On his 100th birthday Allan Karlsson decides to escape his nursing home by climbing out of the window, and goes on an adventure involving (among other things) a dangerous criminal gang, petty thieves, suspicious deaths, a suitcase of cash and an elephant on a bus. This is intertwined with the story of his eventful life, which (in Forrest Gump-style) brought him into the paths of some of the key political leaders of his time (Mao, Stalin, General Franco, Churchill, Presidents Nixon and Johnson to name a few) and conveniently resulted in him being involved in some major world events.

Allan is eccentric and endearing and has a great laid-back attitude to both life and money. He’s a strangely likeable character and I was pleased when things turned out well for him – ironic considering that this generally meant things turning out very badly for other people. It’s ok though – for some reason it’s written in such a way that none of that matters. Allan is great. He romanticises the idea of floating through life, going with the flow, not planning anything, being willing to drop everything when opportunities arise and mostly not to take things too seriously.

It’s darkly humorous and very matter-of-fact, and I found it quite amusing (although not laugh-out-loud funny) all the way through. Despite all the action in the story it’s quite a slow-paced read due to the relaxed writing style and I certainly didn’t race through it, but I did enjoy it. It’s nice to read something so different, and although I’m not really sure what the point of it all was I quite enjoyed the ride.

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