Jonas Jonasson’s The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a blend of historical fiction, satire, wit, and absurdity.
Alan, a centenarian, is an adventurist at heart. Discontented with his life in a nursing home, he climbs out the window and escapes, a few hours before his grand 100th birthday celebration. The moment he is beyond the walls of the nursing home, he realises he doesn’t know where he wants to go. But he is an adventurist at heart and thus embarks on what could be the last adventure in his long and interesting life. In this unlikely journey, he befriends a few criminals, commits a few murders, a grand theft, and much more before beginning the next phase of his life.
I loved the premise. The tale of a 100-year-old man redefining his story by leaping from a balcony is both refreshing and original. The story brilliantly interlaces present-day escapades with Allan’s past encounters with influential historical figures. This clever juxtaposition of history and humour provides a refreshing perspective on major events of the 20th century, offering a satirical lens through which to view them.
Alan’s character is masterfully developed and endearing. His carefree disposition, knack for overcoming challenges, and serendipitous meetings with an array of eccentric characters contribute to a delightful and amusing adventure.
Jonasson’s satirical approach to historical events and political figures adds depth to an otherwise comic escapade. His writing style is engaging, with well-timed and enjoyable humorous moments.
However, the book’s major drawback lies in its plot structure, which follows a repetitive pattern: Alan encounters trouble and then ingeniously resolves it. Yes, and that’s how it is from start to end. The pattern of trouble and resolution was repetitive and predictable.
There is great reliance on coincidences, and chance encounters to move the plot forward. While some fit in seamlessly, some of the events feel contrived.
The supporting characters, apart from Alan, vary in depth. While some supporting characters are well-developed, many of them are one-dimensional. Their main purpose in the story seems to be to provide humour or just a plot progression.
While the satirical take on history is entertaining, it is far-fetched and exaggerated at times, almost bordering on incredibility. Also, the humorous tone is dominating, thereby resulting in a lack of emotional depth in the narration.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a light-hearted and amusing read. However, readers who are looking for a deeper emotional connection might be a little disappointed.
Wordsopedia Rating 3.4/5
|Title: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared||Author: Jonas Jonasson|
|Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group||Publication date: September 9, 2009|
|Genre: Fiction—Humour||Format: Paperback|
|ISBN: 9781843913726||No. of Pages: 396|
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About the author
Jonas Jonasson was a journalist for the Expressen newspaper for many years. He became a media consultant and later set up a company producing sports and events for Swedish television, before selling his company and moving abroad to work on his first novel. He is the author of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden and Hitman Anders and the Meaning of it All.