I got to know about this book – A Man Called Ove from a few of my blogger friends. When they highly recommended it, I knew I had to read this book. With my birthday approaching, I felt it right to gift it to me.
A Man Called Ove is written Frederick Backman. When I read about the author – Backman is a Swedish blogger, my chest puffed up with pride. A fellow blogger who has written an award-winning book – I felt happy for the blogger community.
Now, let’s talk about the book:
As the title suggests, the book is about Ove, a man just one-year shy of 60 years. The book opens with an intense discussion between Ove and the sales person at an Apple store. Ove, a computer illiterate and also unwise to the i-world is driving the person crazy. At this point of time, an image of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, the brilliant and yet socially inept bully of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory, floated before my eyes. As I read through the pages, I realised my mistake – Ove and Sheldon Cooper were very different except for their social awkwardness.
In the initial chapters, Ove comes out as extremely rude, lonely and grumpy. He drives Saab and thinks any other car unworthy of a second look, oh, and he is quite vocal about it too. Yes, Ove speaks his mind – no wonder then he rubs people the wrong way. But, as you turn pages after pages, you come to know the person that is Ove and can’t help but fall in love with him and his eccentricities. He is not exactly brilliant but he is a man of principles and would leave no stone unturned to hold them upright. He is a person who doesn’t think twice before hitting a wife-beater, hosts a queer boy he hardly knows just because his father threw him out when he decided to come out of the closet, helps a random boy fix his girl-friend’s bicycle so that he could woo her.
Ove lost his wife Sonja, the love of his life and the only person who actually understood him, six months ago. Since then, he has stopped living, because he doesn’t how to without her. Miserable alone, he tries to take his own life in various ways, but his attempts are inadvertently thwarted by his new neighbor – a heavily pregnant Iranian woman – Parvaneh, her good-for-nothing lanky husband Patrick and their two adorable girls. Resentful at first by this intrusion on his privacy, Ove, with time, comes to love the little girls. Also, he realizes that he is no match for Parvaneh’s brand of obstinacy. He quits the idea of dying, because he now finds the living more interesting.
There rarely comes such a book which you put down with a heavy heart and a smile on your face. A Man Called Ove is one such book that you don’t want to end. It’s a funny yet moving tale of undying love and unexpected friendship.
The character of the protagonist, Ove is beautifully built. In the beginning, he might come across as someone who understands only black and white. But, then you discover his many facets and come to love him for that. You love him for the smitten young boy who travels for hours in the opposite direction so that he could meet his lady love. You love him for the honest man who doesn’t lie even if that makes him lose his job. You love him for the generous man who puts up road signs, clears snow in front of other’s houses and checks the garbage bins of the residential society; not because someone has asked him to, but because someone has to keep the society in order. You love him for the kind man who adopts a cat even when he doesn’t want to just because the little fur animal is being tortured by a dimwit and her mutt.
The story goes into flashback which surprisingly doesn’t break the rhythm of the narration, but adds dimension to it. In one chapter, you wonder why Ove is behaving in a certain way and in the next, you get your answer.
The book also touches a very relevant point in today’s world. Ove has a long standing grudge for men in white shirts – in short bureaucrats.
“But everywhere, sooner or later, he was stopped by men in white shirts and strict, smug expressions on their faces. And one couldn’t fight them. Not only did they have the state of their side, they were the state.” – surmises his feelings very well.
My verdict: Grab yourself a copy of this book today. Just one suggestion – Read only few chapters at a time, don’t be in a hurry to finish the book, savour it like good wine.
BTW, it’s a major motion picture too. And oh, this definitely goes in my 100-books to read before you die list.
Cheers to you! And to A Man Called Ove!