I have lent this book to a couple of my friends and I guess they haven’t finished this book yet. So this is going to be a spoiler free review. I don’t really like the word review because I feel that I am not such a voracious reader to ‘review’ a book. And I treat books like I treat people. I don’t judge them. Let us just say if I didn’t like a person, it means I have not understood them and not because they are bad or something (I want you to remember this when you read my book which is available in kindle or the books which I may write in the future. If you insist I can send a hypnotizing voice note which would repeat the same thing over and over, like they do with stop-smoking audios. Not Interested? Ok fine)
It is no secret that I love Scandinavian novels. I love the gore their crime fiction has and the setting. I didn’t expect to read a book like A man called Ove from Sweden. The book is basically about an Old man who is trying to do something without disturbing anyone else. He just wants others to leave him alone. But no, that is not what people do. They barge in his life, make him do uncomfortable things like making him go to the hospital when he absolutely doesn’t want to go, punch a clown, run out of his house in his underwear. There should be a limit for these people to harass an elderly man. And making his lead character suffer this much the author actually makes us fall in love with him and also the people who torture him on a day to day basis.
I found this book fascinating. I finished the book in less than four hours. I was all in for the old man’s mission. I felt like I have known him for so long with his routines. People should have routines and learn to love it. I love routines. That is how I was able to relate to Ove. He also knows how to fix things, when they go wrong. Like how to fix a bulb, how to make a hook in the ceiling which would stand there even if the house is demolished, like fixing a bi-cycle without taking it to a repair shop. I would like to know all of these but I just know how to fit a new bulb in the above list.
Here is a passage
“People have no respect for decent, honest functionality anymore, they are happy as long as everything looks neat and dandy on the computer. But Ove does things the way they’re supposed to be done”
This passage and subsequent related things (The author had really driven the point home, kinda like using an electric driller on our skull; Well! Figuratively) made me feel really bad about myself. And it resonated with me so much. My uncle who passed away a few years back can disassemble and then assemble back a radio or tape recorder. When they had a CD player, everybody went out to rent CDs, he was searching for his star screwdriver to see what was it made up of. He would sit patiently and teach my elder brother about it. I was never a hardware person (neither a software person) but I have no idea how to repair things when they stop working. In retrospect, the generations before us had more hunger to learn things. We are more interested in buying and discarding. *End of Rant*
There are a lot of characters. I mean a lot and lot of characters. They all serve their purpose like a tool box. There will be screwdrivers, corks, bolts and millions of other stuff. We don’t care about it unless or until we actually need something. The author had treated the other characters like that. And finally, as an afterthought, he had given them all a good background so as not to hurt their feelings (Characters, though fictional, do have feelings).
This novel has everything that a Rajkumar Hirani would like to have (Let him not read this). He
will choose either Aamir Khan or Sanjay Dutt to play the title role (Don’t put ideas into his head) and spoil the whole thing.
So if you want a light but endearing read, laugh and wipe away your tears now and then when no one is looking, finish the book and stare at the ceiling, feeling why does all good things in the world is short lived, I would recommend this book. I leave you with two of my favorite quotes from the book.
“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say” said Ove.
“A time like that comes for every man when he chooses what sort of man he wants to be. And if you don’t know the story, you don’t know the man”