“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.”
AUTHOR: Fredrik Backman
YEAR OF PUBLISH: 2012
A Man Called Ove was published in English in 2013 written by Swedish Columnist, blogger and writer Fredrik Bachman. The book became an instant bestseller which sold millions of copies worldwide. When the English version of the book was released, it went on the New York Times Bestsellers list and stayed there for 42 weeks! The character of Ove created by Fredik Bachman became widely loved and admired by all.
The above quote is just what Ove believes in. Well why wouldn’t he? The world has become full of those incompetent idiots with their big phones, ignoring signs, fools who cannot drive a manual car as if its rocket science and IT consultants who cannot even reverse a small Chinese car with a trailer attached. Not that Ove liked chinese cars. For him, one can tell what kind of a man a person is by the sort of car he drives. Ove is a very particular man who likes to do things the right way and want others to do the same. He is a stickler for rules. “Rules are Rules afterall”.
On first note Ove will seem like a cranky old man. It was when you dive deeper into the book and get to know him better that you couldn’t help admiring Ove and his ways. He is a sort of man who will call an Idiot a idiot on their face, a man with zero political correctness and zero tolerance for anything or anyone who does not do things properly.
The book begins by Ove trying to buy an Ipad. He asks the Sales assistant while shaking the white box and eyeing it suspiciously if this is one of those ‘O-pads’. The assistant confirms that it is an ‘I-pad’. Ove asks that it is a computer then. The sales assistant is nods and then shakes his head and tells Ove that some people call it a tablet and some a surfing device. But Ove just want a good computer, how hard is that to understand? Well after Ove uses some choice words for the Sales assistant and storms out, the book makes the reader to start forming opinions about Ove. But the person who forms an opinion about Ove is in for a surprise as he moves on to the upcoming chapters.
Ove is living alone after his wife passed away after a long illness. She was the only person whom he has ever loved. Ove’s mother passed away when he was a boy and so he lived with his father. His father who worked for the railways was a man of principles. A man who stuck to his set code of ethics, a man who did things with his hands and Ove learned the same. To quote an excerpt from the book –
His father never raised his fists. Not to Ove or anyone else. Ove had classmates who came to school with black eyes or bruises from a belt buckle after a thrashing. But never Ove. “We don’t fight in this family”, his father used to state. “Not with each other or anyone else.”
He was well liked down at the railway, quiet but kind. There were some who said he was “too kind.”
Or to get an even better understanding –
That year, to stop him from rattling around the house on his own, he also started going with his father to work at the railway yard after school. It was filthy work and badly paid, but, as his father used to mutter, “It’s an honest job and that’s worth something.”
Once Ove found a wallet with more than 6000 Kronor while cleaning a train coach. He worked for a man named Tom who was dishonest and not at all liked among his colleagues. They both were in the coach at that moment, when Tom saw it – he was ready to raise his fists on Ove. That’s when Ove’s father interjected in between and Tom backed down. Ove’s father asked Ove that it is his decision for what to do with the wallet and Ove chooses to submit the wallet in the Lost property office and when the woman behind the counter who couldn’t believe her eyes and says not many people have ever handed back the money, Ove’s father replied, “Many people don’t have no decency either”. And that’s how Ove went on – doing not what is likeable but what the honest and decent thing was to be done.
The book goes on with Ove trying to commit suicide not because he was depressed in a crying all the time sort of way but because he truly & honestly and in all rationality could not see the point of keeping on living without his wife in this world where people easily replace their cars with a different brand and do not know how to do things with their own two hands. Ove fails every time. He also has a new neighbor – a software consultant with a middle eastern pregnant wife called Parvenah and two kids – people who cannot reverse a car with a trailer. With time, Parvaneh is persistent to be make Ove their friend. And Ove being who he is, retorts and complains but always does what is the right thing to do. Their is also Jimmy, another of Ove’s overweight geeky neighbor for whom Ove’s wife cared for when his mother died.
And that is just a small sneak peek at who Ove is. Undoubtedly, Fredrik Backman has penned one of the very lovable character in literature. If you’re going to read this book beware, this is going to touch your heart in one way or another and I think that is why it was hailed so much when it appeared in the market and keeps on selling even to this day. We all need a character like Ove who says what is right not what is convenient and who does the honorable thing, in this time when everything is becoming so ‘Politically correct’.
The book is written in such a way that each line will keep you entertained and engrossed in it and is filled with so many wonderful lines that will just mesmerize you. For instance –
1. “Ove, only a swine thinks size and strength are the same thing. Remember that.” And Ove never forgot it.
2. People also called him antisocial. Ove assumed this meant he wasn’t overly keen on people. And in this instance he could totally agree with them, More often that not people were out of their minds.
3. We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.
One of my favorites –
4. Ove feels an instinctive skepticism towards all people taller than six feet; the blood can’t quite make it all the way up to the brain.
And for our readers who lean more towards the Romance genre –
5. He was a man of black and white. And she was color. All the color he had.
I became so attached to Backman’s character that there was so little I could do to stop reading. I was reading while I was having my food, I was reading in between my office tasks and I was reading when I was not sleeping.
It would not be wrong to say that no matter what kind of a person you are, if you’re a reader then this book will manage to pull at some emotional cord in you. And what would become of human race if it was not for emotions!
A must read bestseller!