The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, (translated by Rod Bradbury)
Published: 2012 by Harper Collins
So the other weekend I was in Toronto, and I managed to sneak in a visit The World’s Biggest Bookstore (yep, that’s the name, though I can’t vouch for its truth). My justification here is that I like to keep up to speed on what is popular in Canadian literature (despite being the neighbor to the South, it is not that easy to find Canadian books in the U.S.); and for this visit, my suitcase would be virtually empty on the flight home if I didn’t purchase something to fill it (I was in TO for my nephew’s first birthday and an early celebration of my nieces’ third birthdays, so upon arrival my suitcase was jammed!).
And what did I pick up? Not a Canadian best-seller. Not even a book by a Canadian writer. I purchased The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared — a book with “THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING SENSATION” at the top of the cover. And yet I had never heard of it.
So the title explains the gist of the story: on his 100th birthday, dreading the faux sentiments of the party to be held in his honor at the nursing home in which he resides, Allen Karlsson climbs out of his bedroom window and starts walking. He ends up at the bus station and waits for the next bus that will take him away. While waiting, he is approached by a young man who asks him to watch his suitcase while he uses the bathroom. Allen agrees, but before the man has finished his “business”, a bus arrives and Allen gets on it with the suitcase.
And the adventure begins.
This isn’t the first adventure in Allen’s life; in fact, it almost pales in comparison to almost everything he has done. Between the narration of Allen’s current story, we read about his colorful and eventful past and his role in the way world history unfolded. In both plotlines we meet a dizzying array of oddball characters, both real (Mao-Tse Tung and Harry Truman are just two) and products of the author’s imagination, including a pet elephant who believe it or not plays an integral role in the plot.
Yes, you must suspend disbelief just a little bit when you are reading this novel, and at times it is a bit (ok, a lot) over the top. But it is original and a fun read, especially good for passing away the time in an airport or on a plane.