Author: Jonas Jonasson, 2009. Translated from the Swedish by Rod Bradbury, 2012.
Genre: Picaresque Novel. Black Comedy. Crime Fiction. Period Fiction.
Other Details: Paperback. 396 pages.
On his hundredth birthday, just as the celebrations are about to begin out in the lounge in the old people's home, Allan Karlsson hastily decides that he wants nothing to do with the party. He climbs through his window and disappears - and soon he has turned the whole nation on its head. He does have some experience in these matters. He has previously done the same thing with the world. - synopsis from author's website.
This Swedish novel was a delight from start to finish. Its narrative alternates between Allan's adventures in the present after he climbs out of the window and his history from boyhood onward. While the novel is a world removed from the gloomy Nordic Noir that I adore, a common thread is an engagement with social issues and politics; here presented as Allan's encounter with various political figures of the 20th Century.
The novel has been chosen by two of my reading groups this winter. At the first meeting it proved an unqualified hit with everyone present for its quirkiness, its often absurd humour, its warmth and general readability. I have every confidence that it will also be well received by the other group in January 2013. I came to the novel with no preconceptions and just adored it.
Jonas Jonasson's page on 'The Centenarian Who Climbed....' - includes interactive map of Allan Karlsson's adventures through the world of the 20th century and list of notable historical figures he encounters (spoilers!)