After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).
Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed over 2 million people around the world.
©2009 Jonas Jonasson (P)2012 AudioGO
I listened to this book on a lark - not knowing what to expect. The premise is unusual: a centenarian (Allan) "escapes" from a nursing home and goes on a wild adventure. While this adventure is unfolding, a parallel story is told about Allan's past. And what a past it is! Without spoiling the fun and inventive story telling, let's just say that Allan got around in his youth, met most of the major international players of his day, and was indirectly involved in some of the world's most pivotal geo-political-military events as well.
But back to the main story. Allan is quite the rascal and he meets up with a cast of other rascals. Along the way, they engage in remarkable acts of criminal conduct (with a wink and a nod) with little concern for the morality of their conduct. Told in a light hearted and playful manner, this book is not meant to be taken too seriously. As my "headline" notes, it is fun, inventive, and (at times) silly.
To the extent that there is a downside, there were many times when I was struck by how preposterous the story was. But I quickly concluded that I was missing the point. Despite this concern, this is a very well written and narrated story. If you are looking for something fun, this is the book for you.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
This jolly little caper was recommended to me based on my favorable review of “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”. While I did enjoy that lovely book very much, this selection resembles it only in the premise of an impromptu journey by a geriatric gentleman. This story could be the result of Carl Hiaasen blending Harold Fry with Forrest Gump and adding his own patented lunacy to the mix. There are two storylines at work: the current day journey of Allan Karlssen and the entourage he accumulates while trying to evade a biker gang and the police, and the historical journey of his very eventful Gump-like life that collides with every major global event from 1920 to the fall of the Soviet Union.
I found the current day story line the more entertaining of the two. Readers of Hiaasen’s books will enjoy the very dry, dark humor and root for the inevitable come-uppance dealt by karma as our merry band of fugitives dodge every peril, encouraged by Allan’s optimistic belief that “it is what it is, and what will be will be.” The historical sections were very Gumpish (as noted by many other reviewers), but better because through Allan’s stubbornly apolitical viewpoint, no country or political party escapes a dark satirical skewering. My only complaint was how revisiting history slowed down the more entertaining escape story. Still, it is only a small complaint, because there comes a scene near the end when all those previous historical encounters are bundled together to great hilarity at one person’s expense.
For those who enjoyed Harold Fry for the sweet, gentle tone and ultimately life redeeming message, you may not respond well to the darkness in this story if you are hoping for a repeat. Hiaasen’s fans will have to adjust to a very British reader and a more dry delivery than that author employs. But if those adjustments can be made, if you can just hop on board and take the journey with Allan, then you may be very pleased with “what it is, and what will be.”
Looking for something that works!
A funny, funny (in a dry humor, tongue-in-cheek, sort of way) book that is fascinating! Full of surprises and unexpected events. I am enjoying it sooo much! And the narrator is perfect! I listen to it on my audible.com app on my iPhone and laugh out loud a lot. I imagine, that when I am driving and the phone sits on the dash playing away, and I guffaw for several seconds, other drivers must get a bit alarmed, since there appears to be no obvious reason for my behavior. Take a listen to it and you will understand! Highly recommended!
Sounds almost as if he is narrating something about which he has personal knowledge. Like he, himself, had witnessed the events!
If I had the uninterrupted time I would. As it was, this afternoon, for instance, my dog tore apart several things in the other room while I listened to the book, rapt, and oblivious to the noises from the other end of the house! The book REALLY engages me!!!
If you know someone with a dry sense of humor or who likes quirky stories, this is the book for them! What a wonderful gift it would make for the holiday season! Thoroughly entertaining! I could imagine a group sitting and listening...and laughing and laughing! Why, they might even want to pause the reading and discuss parts of the story, considering how much history is brought up in it! A book that would be of interest and understandable equally for Europeans and Americans, which is not all that common among books.
Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.
How far can a story go when the protagonist starts off at 100? The answer is everywhere and anywhere. With a shifting time line, Jonasson weaves an incredible story about a remarkable man, Alan Carlson, an explosives expert with a calm temperament. Alan gets himself into more binds than Houdini, and like the great magician, wiggles his way out.
The story is not only funny, but gives the reader a lesson in Twentieth Century history. Jonasson manages to combine "Forrest Gump" with "Zelig" and comes up with an unforgettable character whose exploits manage to effect world history.
I could not give a fifth star for story only because Carlson found himself in way too many predicaments.
Three words: Entertaining, Amusing, Historical. Sort of a Forest Gump meets History of the World!
Similar to Forest Gump in that there are fictional effects of the protagonist on true historical events.
Steven Crossley's excellent narration enables the listener to envision the happenings and the individuality of the characters.
Yes. Of course the length of the book prohibited me from listening all in one sitting.
Recommended to me by a friend. I, in turn, recommended it to many of mine.
It's the first so It's at the very top!
Sonjia the elephant's debut in the book..
No but I enjoyed this one.
I'm seventeen and enjoy writing about the books I read. Along with literature, my interests include history, art, nature, cooking, and the occasional pop-culture reference.
This story totally deserves the international bestseller title. With infectious characters and delightful dark humor Jonasson has brought a very unique telling of some of modern history’s darkest moments to the table. Karlsson’s a protagonist you can really stand behind, his ever-constant jovial perspective on life seeps into your head as you read - reading just a chapter easily turned a few of my own sour moods around! Through lies, deceit, and unbelievable outcomes of some of the stickiest situations imagined it’s odd that friendship, however short-lived on occasion, abounds in this story. Its appearance brought this hilarious tale, down-to-earth and let the best of human nature shine.
I don’t think I’d have enjoyed this book as much as I did if it weren’t for my digesting it in an audio form. The narrator did a marvelous job and the story unfolded so perfectly, it just felt like a story that needed to be read aloud. Highly entertaining and laugh-out loud funny.
Irreverent, Intelligent without being overly intellectual, and Forrest Gump-y in the way the story weaves through major world events, Christopher Moore would be proud!
I enjoyed how Allan's interactions with various world leaders (US presidents, prime ministers, ambassadors, communist leaders....) inadvertently, yet comically, created 20th century world history.
When the Sophie the elephant "sat". And when Allan and one of his friends were debating on the utility of colorful umbrellas ("no need to shield the vodka from the rain") in their drinks!
Allan, the lead character. His approach to EVERYTHING is easy-going, laid back, humorous (without trying to be), and just enjoyable!
I will definitely be looking for more books by this author!
Lost for English Words
A quirky, good-humored, informative romp through some of the main events of 20th Century history following the steps of a spry, philosophical 100-year-old retiree who invariably manages to land on his feet, no matter how tight the spot. One of the most charming books I have ever come across! The narration by Steven Crossley was an added enhancement. I loved it!
It was good to find that a Swedish writer could write something that did NOT endanger your mental health. With its echoes (pronounced) of Forest Gump and (faint) Crytonomicon, this book is a terrific antidote to the usual dour northern european crime fiction. It is a great romp with the perfect narrator. As it says in its introduction, "those who only says what is the truth, they're not worth listening to..." Go ahead, suspend your disbelief and enjoy!
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