A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (2014)

Genre: Fiction
Interest Level: Adult
A Man Called OveThis heartwarming tale of a man in mourning, demanding neighbours, and a stubborn cat, comes by way of Sweden. Translated by Henning Koch, it is the story of the eponymous Ove, stymied by the new world order in which people drive imports instead of Saabs, don’t know how to reverse a trailer or bleed radiators, and fail to value men who do these things and more, and who act rather than speak. In the vein of The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, this novel slowly reveals Ove’s life story, from his first job to how he fell in love to just how he happened to adopt the Cat Annoyance. His gruff and grumpy exterior hides a solid citizen who believes what’s right should trump what’s now. After his beloved Sonja’s passing, Ove is ready to join her, but keeps being distracted by neighbours who clearly can’t manage the simplest of tasks, from driving a stick to climbing a ladder. Ove never quits, either – the men in white shirts he has combated his entire life return to threaten the little neighbourhood, and Ove develops hilariously imaginative solutions to thwart them. Slowly, Ove’s world grows to include a computer-loving seven-year-old and a young man who finally comes out to his father. (Ove calls him a “bender” and doesn’t understand why his neighbours consider this an insulting term. Should he say queer, he wonders?) I laughed out loud several times, and found myself near tears just as often. Koch’s translation of Backman’s story gently renders a tragically comic figure into one we grow to love and appreciate, in a simple writing style that suits this tale of a man of few words. First published in 2012, it was translated for a British audience, which might explain the occasional jarring turn of phrase. A stronger hand at editing is needed – Ove “roars” far too often – but overlook these minor criticisms and enjoy this sweet and touching gem. My thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18774964

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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

2 Responses to A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (2014)

  1. Jack says:

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  2. Thanks Jack! Glad it served as a welcome break. I look forward to your thoughts on titles you read.

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