Book Review : A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman

Heartwarming, is an understatement !

Fredrik Backman is a young Swedish writer, born in 1981. After dropping out of college, he worked as a columnist, magazine writer and a freelancer. He is known for his simplistic stories involving human emotions as a driving factor in the core plot. This book was originally published in Swedish during 2012. It was published in English during 2014 and reached the New York Times Best Seller list. It stayed on the list for 42 weeks. It has been translated in 38 languages and sold more than a million copies.

The story revolves around Ove, who is a grumpy 59-year old widower. He often lashes out at people when they violate his very strict perception of how things ought to be. After losing his wife (only person he loved unconditionally), his life becomes more of a mere existence. A few months later, he gets sacked from his job as well, for no valid reason. Having no reason to live, he decides to kill himself, and meticulously prepares for it. But he fails humorously in each of his attempts, thanks to his neighbours — who belong to various personality traits from entertaining to bothersome.

In spite of his grumpiness, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with few of his neighbours and a cat. He slowly begins to change his mind about a number of things.

Ove is a man with more of action and less of talk. Each chapter gives a glimpse from various stages of Ove’s life and makes us understand him more. Story alternates between past and present and we learn in these chapters about how a and hardworking boy turned into a grumpy old man. His love episodes are really a delightful read.

This is one of a kind book that can make us laugh and cry in equal measure. A touching story that subtly educates us about living as a community, finding our purpose and moving on from grief.

Life is very simple if we approach it without introducing unnecessary complications. These complications arise only when we chase entities (power, money and fame) that are not really necessary for enjoying our life.

To lead a life with happiness and contentment, all we need is to be surrounded with people we love and those who love us. As we travel through Ove’s life, we can realize this simple, but elegant truth.

Overall, it is a pleasant, heart warming and delightful story!

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