I didn’t know that this book was made into a movie. This was our first book for our February book club appointment. These are our selected titles:
A Man Called Ove (original title in Swedish: En man som heter Ove) is a 2012 novel by Fredrik Backman, a Swedish columnist, blogger and writer. It was published in English in 2013. The English version reached the New York Times Best Seller list 18 months after it was published and stayed on the list for 42 weeks.
In January 2015 a stage version of the book, with Johan Rheborg in the leading role as Ove, had its premiere in Stockholm. In addition, it was adapted as a film of the same name, which was premiered on 25 December 2015, with Rolf Lassgård in the leading role.
I had seen this book pop up at Goodreads, but it didn’t catch my attention. Contemporary books don’t appeal to me much. This book was one more example of why I don’t read many contemporary books.
My impressions. It felt like an assorted box of chocolates. Some of the pieces were truly well done, others left a bitter taste in my mouth. Without spoilers, A Man Called Ove is a page turner. Characters are well written, very real, the contrast between traditional values and modern life is a well spotted thread well developed in the book. There’s some good qualities to this book, such as a fresh tone, (maybe the author being Swedish gives it that flair), humor, tenderness, a clever look at the world of immigrants and children, and of course, the person of Ove. He is someone interesting, worth meeting. However, -you knew this was coming, didn’t you?-, in the same package, I couldn’t help but noticing a willingness to please approach, the recourse to some cliches, and an urgent need to rub the bellies of the masses. That brought the book down from what could have been a literary compelling novel to a forgettable consumption product.
I’m not upset with the author. It’s already hard to choose writing as a profession. I’m nobody to judge him for writing to publish, aiming to the best selling market. Many consecrated writers we place at the top of this we call literary tradition, also enjoyed a measure of popularity. Maybe Frederick Backman will also make it, in a hundred years time, to the authors list who represent our times. Who knows? That’s the point. At that time, those reading him will be privy to the sifted list of what’s left from our century. As for me, I’m going a step back in time, since that is my routine strategy to find those books that, in a more general scope, I know are sure reads, worth my time.
Wasn’t this title worth my time? I think it was since in February I’ll have the chance to discuss it with my book club buddies. Will I read more titles by Backman? I don’t think so.