Book Review: A Man called Ove

Originally published: 27 August 2012
Author: Fredrik Backman
Original title: En man som heter Ove
Genre: Novel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (US)

After reading so much about ‘A Man called Ove’ on my Facebook reading group, my curiosity was piqued and I picked it up as my next read. Author Fredrik Backman has created a memorable character which you will remember for years. Originally published in Sweden, the novel tells a beautiful tale that will make you appreciate love and life.

Ove is an unassuming, grumpy, old, opinionated man who sticks to rules and routines. He is utterly set in his ways and is unwilling to adapt to the modern ways of life. He doesn’t smile or compliment but is a man of integrity. His new neighbour’s failed attempts to back a trailer brings him face to face with this new family in the neighbourhood and this is only the first of the many interesting and humorous interactions to come. Inspite of his unpleasant disposition and crankiness, Ove is often reluctantly drawn to the rescue of his newest neighbours. Though he comes off as rude and emotionless at first but gradually his soft and loving nature unfolds.

Little by little, the author provides us with glimpses of Ove’s past- bleak circumstances that smack an honorable, hardworking orphan to grow up to be a grumpy man. His life turns around when he meets sweet and lively Sonja and eventually marries her. Sonja with her optimism and warmth keeps the balance in Ove’s otherwise pessimistic life. Now at 59, Ove is in despair again, unable to cope with the loss of his beloved Sonja. And this time again, it’s a woman who brings him back to life: Parvaneh who moves with her husband and children into Ove’s neighbourhood.

Ove is determined to end his life so that he could join Sonja but fate as well as his principles & sense of duty repeatedly force him to postpone his suicide. Whenever he attempts to commit suicide, something comes up which he has to take care of. His plans are thwarted in a comical and heart-warming way.

Watching Ove grow- healing through the loss of his wife and being friends with his neighbours- is an endearing journey. The journey will take you through numerous hysterically funny, loving and emotional events which will keep you smiling. Ove starts out as an irritating character but ends up as an endearing one and you can’t help falling in love with him.

The book has great humour, encompassing storyline and unique characterization. The author has done a magnificent job in revealing the heart of gold beneath Ove’s tough exterior. All in all, an excellent book worth reading!

My Rating: 4.5/5

© 2018 Shaloo Walia All rights reserved

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18 comments

  1. This was one of my favorite books last year, so thank you for the reminder. We hear about an “epidemic of loneliness” in our country; this book shows the power of community to overcome despair.

    1. Nothing of the sort. I found the book quite average in the beginning and wondered about all the rave reviews. But as the story progresses, you gradually fall in love with the characters.

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