A Man Called Ove

February 27, 2018 at 3:53 pm Leave a comment

by Catherine Hume

I have really enjoyed this novel! Although my book club, generally, didn’t enjoy it. One woman said that her reason for not enjoying the novel was that she found the book “too masculine”. I don’t know what that means so I can’t comment.

A Man Called Ove is Fredrik Backman‘s sixth novel, and has recently been made into a film. Ove is a man who was retired from his job against his will. He lives in a small Swedish town and simply cannot function in the modern world. Orphaned at a young age, Ove learned to be self-sufficient. He fixes things. He is someone who does instead of someone who talks. Ove’s world is turned upside down when a racially mixed family move in next door. These neighbours provide an annoyance each day that disturbs Ove’s daily attempts to commit suicide. The family gradually weave themselves into Ove’s life in a way that is both heart-warming and inspiring.

I did find some parts of the novel a bit ploddy, but that reflects the ploddy nature of Ove’s life. I loved the cat and the amusing inferences Backman makes about this battered animal that is adopted by Ove. The cat accompanies Ove everywhere and it takes on the role of commentator and judge of Ove’s daily travails.

One of the great things about reading novels written in their own countries is that we get a real insight – albeit a snapshot – of that other country and culture. Many of us have been told that Sweden is very liberal, yet in A Man Called Ove we find bureaucracy ruining the lives of vulnerable people and we find homophobia; two things we are told to never expect in Sweden.

There is a sad backstory that gives the reason why Ove is so cantankerous and suicidal, but A Man Called Ove is written gently, similar in that way to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I recommend both these novels.

Catherine Hume


Author: Fredrik Backman


Entry filed under: Reviews. Tags: , .

Fredrik Backman Margery Allingham

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