BOOK CLUB: “A Man Called Ove”

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A Moving, Laugh-Out-Loud Story About A Very Unusual Man!


How does a book by a Swedish author about a judgmental, impatient curmudgeon governed by strict routine and thinks he is surrounded by idiots become an international bestseller? Fredrik Backman, in his debut novel, has taken this anti-hero, Ove, and delivered a delightfully entertaining and often hilarious book.

Ove’s beloved wife, Sonja, died and all he wants to do is join her. Enter a parade of characters, including a mangy cat, that keep him from achieving his goal time after time. Within a few pages you find yourself very much a part of Ove’s life and, in short order, a part of the lives of those in his community.

Ove’s life is black and white. There are no gray areas as far as he is concerned and only one way to do things from the food he eats daily, to the specific tools he uses, to the only kind of car he drives, a Saab.

The discussion was led by the incomparable Betty Eich. She asked the group to define the major themes in the novel, and they quickly offered these four: identity, relationships, loss, and reasons to live.

Why read about a grumpy old man? Because as his life unfolds, you will laugh out loud, cry with Ove, and want to call everyone you love to tell them so. Ove and his neighbors are a great combination of crazy, loving, messy humanity. Great book!

— Pat Crigler, Glenbrook

In discussing Ove’s sense of identity, the group said though he is hypercritical and often irked, he possesses many outstanding values. They went on to mention his devotion to tradition; his persistence, often in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds; his fairness, and his complete honesty. It is this honesty, which he often delivers with total frankness, that results in more trouble than he ever anticipated. These circumstances provide the reader many comical situations.

The themes of relationships, loss, and even death play point and counterpoint throughout the book. While you may think that makes the story disheartening, that is far from the case. We see Ove in many different lights and are regularly led to remark, “Now I understand!” The story clearly brings home the message that there is always hope and reason to live..

A very interesting part of the discussion was the fact that so many members actually knew someone very much like Ove. The group wholeheartedly agreed this quirky and charming read should be on everyone’s list and eagerly look forward to reading the talented Backman’s newest novels.


About the Author

Fredrik Backman was born in 1981. He is a columnist, blogger, and writer. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife Nada and their two children. As a stay-at-home father of young children, he can’t commit to a writing routine. He says, “It’s more important to set aside time for thinking. Writing is fun, so one way or another I always find time for that.”  He starts his next book before the reviews are out for the previous book and that way his writing is unaffected by good or bad reviews.

“A Man Called Ove” was published in more than 25 countries. His two new books, “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” and “Marie-Britt Was Here” are also receiving rave reviews and climbing bestseller lists around the world.


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