Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

May 24, 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a fictional story taking place in Sweden. Mr. Backman is a columnist, blogger and writer.

  • 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476738017

Buy Man Called Ove from*
My rating for Man Called Ove 4
Buy Man Called Ove from*

More Books by Fredrik Backman

I first heard of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman when watching rich people give other rich people awards (aka The Oscars) and this was one of the nominees for best foreign films. My beloved wife and I try to watch the nominated movies every year, and we found out that the foreign films are as good, if not better, than the flicks in the major categories.
We usually get to watch the movies after the awards due to prior obligations we made 12 years and 10 years prior.

The book’s central character, Ove (pronounced oo-ve), is a grumpy, angry, old widower and a memorable character all by himself. Ove is lonely and sees the world in black and white. Ove wants to die and join his wife, but this world is such a mass that he cannot seem to let go, and people who he normally wouldn’t associate with keep pushing themselves into his life.

Glutton for punishment, Ove spends his days giving a hard time to his neighbors about trash bins, pets, kids, parking, shoveling snow and more.
Complaining, but deep down inside I believe he enjoys the berating – it gives him a taste of life.

As with other loveable, yet grumpy characters, Ove grows on you quickly and Mr. Backman manages to create a sympathetic protagonist (or is he the antagonist? I haven’t decided yet). Ove is a man of contradictions, loyal to a fault, hates to help but never turns down a request (eventually), doesn’t read but married a literature teacher, hates pets but adopts a stray cat (or does the cat adopts him?).

It is interesting that many of the books I read from Sweden, unless crime dramas or police procedurals, revolve around contradictions. A character says one thing, does the opposite and continues on their merry way.  This type of storytelling is amusing at first, but can easily be overdone and boring.
Then again, crime dramas or police procedurals could also be filled with contradictions.

This is a clever book and the translation is simply brilliant. A feel good story about an unlikeable man, a bit formulaic, but still cute and a good read.

And we still haven’t watched all the nominated movies.

Buy Man Called Ove from*
More Books by Fredrik Backman

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I borrowed this book from the local
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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