Book review: The hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared

Have you ever imagined that if you lived up to a 100 years old, what would you do? Novel “The hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared” (quite a mouthful for a book title isn’t it?) went along with this thought and spun an entire story out of it with centenarian Allan Karlsson.

“He was wearing a brown jacket with brown trousers and on his feet he had a pair of brown indoor slippers. He was not a trendsetter; people rarely are at that age. He was on the run from his own birthday party, another unusual thing for a hundred-year-old, not least because even being one hundred is pretty rare.”

The story started off on such a humorous and light-hearted tone, giving the author Jonas Jonasson much leeway for his imagination to spin the plot in all different ridiculous and outrageous directions. After escaping from his old age home, centenarian Allan Karlsson conveniently nicked a luggage bag filled with stolen cash, bought a bus ticket headed to nowhere and kickstarted his aimless journey with his newfound friends, who are no more than a group of good-natured crooks and thieves.

“After a while, Julius started to rustle with something in the back seat. He held out an opened bag of sweets to Allan and Benny.

‘Just look what I found in my pocket,’ he said.

Allan raised his eyebrows: ‘You stole a bag of sweets, when we’ve got fifty million in the suitcase?’”

Parallel to Allan’s modern day encounters were his lifetime worth of adventures of meeting 20th century leaders and mind-blowing experiences such as trekking through the Himalayas.

“Once, many years ago, Allan had crossed the Himalayas. That was no picnic. Allan thought about that, now, as he stood before the last hurdle between himself and the station. He considered the matter so intently that the stone wall seemed to shrink before his eyes. And when it was at its very lowest, Allan crept over it, age and knees be damned.”

The spry centenarian reminded me of Forrest Gump, who always sees the best in humans and take things, good or bad, in his own stride. Such a mantra was penned in the epigraph of the book, ‘Things are what they are, and whatever will be will be.’The uplifting character combined with absurdity of the story and the author’s deadpan humor resulted in a lot of funny moments throughout.

“‘Hello? Is that Bali Airport?’ Allan said in English, and received the answer that they should immediately identify themselves unless they wanted to face the Indonesian Air Force.

‘My name is Dollars,’ said Allan. ‘One Hundred Thousand Dollars.’ The air traffic controller was completely silent…

‘Excuse me, Mr Dollars. The sound is very poor. Could you please be so kind as to say your first name once more?’ Allan explained to the captain that the controller had now started to negotiate. ‘I know,’ said the captain.

“My first name is Two Hundred Thousand,’ said Allan. ‘Do we have your permission to land?’

‘One moment, Mr Dollars,’ said the flightleader, and checked with his colleagues. He then said: ‘You are most welcome to Bali, Mr Dollars. It will be a pleasure to have you here.’”

“The hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared”  is a funny fiction book through and through for anyone looking for a light quirky read this busy December.

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