A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Welcome to our Book Club

"A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

a man called over book cover
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations."

This is the most wonderful book. 

A moving testament to be ability of love to humanise a supreme curmudgeon. Ove comes off at first as such an officious, stubborn busybody, you want to laugh at him and not with him. Such a miserly haggler. The words “batteries not included” can put him in a rage. Anyone who doesn’t drive a Saab is an idiot. Still, his jaundiced views sometimes are fun to try on:

In the parking area, Ove sees that imbecile Anders backing his Audi out of his garage. It has those new, wave-shaped headlights, Ove notes, presumably designed so that no one at night will be able to avoid the insight that here comes a car driven by an utter shit.

Slowly, we come to see his bark has no bite, and his hunger to be needed is the grace in his core. She liked to talk, about books she loved or the delinquent kids she taught, and he liked to listen to her. He got sustenance from building her things, like bookshelves, or, when she became wheelchair bound after a tragic accident, constructing her an accessible kitchen or a ramp at her school:

His long grief over losing Sonja has recently been compounded by the uselessness of being forced into an early retirement. He is on a downward train. But life keeps intruding. He may snarl at homeless cats or people or at interruptions from his irritating neighbours, but he doesn’t resist much, taking the cat in or helping these neighbours with their problems. The pregnant Iranian lady next door, Parvaneh, intrudes to browbeat him into saving the cat from freezing. There is such heart in Ove’s depressed humour, I can't get enough of it:
a man called ove and the cat

As with A.J. Filkrie and Harold Frye, Ove thinks he just wants to say goodbye to life, but beginning to care about one thing leads to more and more threads that bind. I have a special place in my heart for writers who can make you laugh one moment and make you cry the next. The pain of living doesn’t have a chance of isolating you in defeat you if you join the land of idiots who can make you smile.


Read along with us.

Our next read is  The Choice by Edith Eger.