[688]: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

18774964 A perfect mix of heartwarming and heartbreaking.

A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

Ove hasn’t found anything to smile about lately. What was once a very regimented man, is now an even more terrifying old man to encounter. He lives by his own strict rules and there’s no swaying him into any grey area. Needless to say, he doesn’t do well with changes, either.

One day, when a family of mixed race moved in beside him, his life was turned upside down. He thinks the husband an incompetent idiot, the kids bothersome, and the woman (of Iraqui descent), a pest. Their chaotic life couldn’t be more different from Ove’s disciplined existence.

Ove is a man of a few words. He doesn’t waste them on perfunctory dialogues – not even carefully thought out ones. He’d rather the world leave him alone so he can live out his days in peace. In truth, he’s just biding his time until he can see his Sonja again. But the entire universe will conspire against him. What follows is a series of event that will give him a reason to stay, a reason to live, and a reason to love again.

What is it about Swedish-translated novels that make me feel all the warm and fuzzies? Ove is the perfect example of a hard man to like but the characters and events of the story somehow soften him to the eyes of the readers. I think it’s because everyone around him forces him to deviate from his normal self. They give him layers that no one knew existed, not even his dead wife or himself. The world sees him as an angry, old coot but deep inside, his upbringing remains the thing that will always make him human. His mom died when he was just a boy but his father made sure he grew up to be a conscientious, kind-hearted man. It also helps that he held his father to the highest esteem so he emulated him all his life. This was better exemplified when on their vacation in Spain, and even though there was a language barrier, he helped the townspeople to the best of his abilities. He went around fixing things and making sure their problems disappear.

If you’ve seen the video for this novel-turned-to-film, you would know that ever since his wife died, he hasn’t found a reason to live. So everyday since making a decision to follow Sonja, he’s been trying to kill himself. Of course, all his attempts end up in the most comical way possible which makes this book sad and funny at the same time. All around him people and circumstances did their best, though, unconsciously, from doing what he’s set out to do. Until he finally admitted defeat by telling his wife that “killing oneself isn’t easy.” At the end of the day, Ove’s big heart was the thing that will give him what he’s been asking for.

  • Aw, gorgeous review Joy 🙂 I’m glad you liked this book a lot. <3 I haven't watched the movie, but now I'm curious about it and this book 🙂 It seems a bit sad, yet sort of awesome too. Not really for me, but I am curious 😀

  • karina

    I actually didn’t like his character, he was too taciturn,and everyone around was enabling his asshole-ish attitude which especially turned me off on audio, but I’m glad you enjoyed this book, J.! hugs x

  • Jazmen

    Sounds really intriguing. I’ll have to look into this one!

  • This sounds so cute and I keep seeing all the praise for it. I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on Amazon, yet. I worry it’s so far out of my normal read.

  • for some reason, Ove reminded me of AJ Fikry (minus the trying to kill himself thing). I’ve been eyeing this one for quite some time now. I’ll definitely buy this one soon 😀

    • Yes! Also, Don Tillman of The Rosie Project. 🙂

  • shootingstarsmag

    This sounds like a fantastic read. I also really like translated novels. 🙂 Have you heard of The Suicide Shop? It’s translated from French and a favorite of mine!


    • It was, Lauren. I also like that the author was able to convey the loneliness Over felt even when surrounded by the people who insist on pestering him (lovingly).

  • It does sound really sad!

  • This sounds like a sad, but amusing read! I cannot imagine the loss he suffered, and even to continue to fail at the one task he set himself is funny!

    • Oh, I know. There was one scene where he obsessed about the hook where he was going to hang himself and how he would reinforce it to make sure he gets the job done only the hook didn’t support his weight so he feel down, hook and all. Lol.

  • I can’t wait to read this novel! I am really looking forward to it, especially as I have loved another book from this author. I’m usually someone who doesn’t really get along well with my translated kind of novels, but his I could do so I am looking forward to trying out more of them!

    • Ohhh, I need to check that one out. It’s tough, yes. I don’t read too many translated novels but I found Scandinavian novels to be nicely done.

  • I just bought the audio for this book and am really looking forward to it. I didn’t know that there was a film though. I am really glad to hear that your enjoyed it.

    • I hope you’ll enjoy it! I also bought the audio because it was on sale. Lol.

  • Aww this actually sounds kind of cute. I didn’t know it was a film so I have to check it out. You’ve officially gotten me intrigued over this book.
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

    • Cute and sad. Old people usually are. Lol.

  • I had no idea it was made into a film. I feel like everyone and their grandmothers have read it so it’s on my shortlist. I plan to get to this one next month. Great review!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
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    • Just watched it after I read the book (without subtitles). It was really good!

  • kindlemom1

    Sad and funny can be a good combo, it can also be weird LOL! Great review!

    • Absolutely. I like that it’s not completely sad, nor it’s completely funny. It just makes you kinda grin and then think how inappropriate it was after a while. Lol.

  • I’d have to read it in Swedish, but that feels so weird, I always read translated books

  • I am always afraid of translated books. I think they will end up not sounding right or something so I stay away. But I have to admit that this does sound very heartwarming. It’s going to be a movie huh? Foreign film. Oh well 🙂

    • It was a 2015 movie. I think it was a Cannes Film entry? It was really good. 😉