A Man Called Ove’

A Father’s Day Book to Read and Remember

Book cover A Man Called Ove
By Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch, Washington Square Press, 2012, 352 pp
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Book Review by Kathy Megyeri

by KATHY MEGYERI

The inside front cover of A Man Called Ove sums up this book in two sentences: “At first glance, Ove is most certainly the grumpiest man you ever met. Never trust first impressions.”

The book, based on Swedish author Fredrik Backman’s bestseller, is a sweet, sad and humorous yarn about a 59-year-old curmudgeon who has basically given up on life.

In 2105, it was made into a Swedish film; now actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson
are remaking the film with Hanks in the lead role. The American version is expected to be released in 2020.

We’ve all known men like Ove— sad and lonely widowers who are grumpy, outspoken and opinionated; the kind that follow strict rules, possess a short fuse, never smile or
strive for political correctness.

Retired from his railroad job of 43 years, Ove spends his days visiting his wife’s grave and nitpicking at neighbors who don’t follow the association rules—even though he is the ousted president of his condominium association.

Ove has tried to commit suicide on more than one occasion. He is used to living in a world where men know how to install a dimmer switch, lay tile, plaster a wall, file their own taxes, and don’t need to do much talking.

Now he exists in a world that is foreign to him—one filled with new technologies, friends
he doesn’t care to entertain, and others he doesn’t understand.

Then a young “foreign” couple with a couple of chatty kids moves in next door and accidentally drives over Ove’s mailbox while backing up their U-Haul.

The resulting relationship changes the course of the book and Ove’s life.

I found Backman’s writing style— simple, repetitive and formatted in episodic structure—downright charming as illustrated in the following passage:

“‘I miss you,’ he whispers. It’s been six months since she died. But Ove still inspects the whole house twice a day to feel the radiators and check that she hasn’t sneakily turned up the heating.”

The book’s last chapters deliver some unexpected emotional blows but still carry hope and quiet joy. Backman’s stirring narrative about the importance of the human connection will
leave the reader cherishing a man they disliked in the beginning but loved at the end, and certainly one they will never forget.

 

Read More by Kathy Megyeri HERE.

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