REVIEW: ‘A MAN CALLED OVE’ BY FREDRIK BACKMAN

A man called Ove is fifty nine, and has cancelled his newspaper subscription, payed all bills, written out his will and made arrangements for his Saab. Now, he is ready to die.

Originally, a Swedish bestseller, ‘En man som heter Ove’, published on the 27th of August, 2012 by Atria Publishing Group (US) was translated by Henning Koch into ‘A Man Called Ove’ and published in 2013 by Washington Square Press (US). It immediately made into the NY time bestseller and stayed on the list for 42 long weeks. It was even made into a film under the same name in 2016 starring Rolf Lassgard.

“Grumpy old sod” Ove is disrupted in his act of self suspension from the world, when his mail box is smashed by a trailer in the ‘restricted area’. And that is the first of the very many times that a very vibrant and very pregnant Parvaneh unknowingly forces Ove to live on with his life.

Frederik Backman very gradually guide in the characters who were just there and yet not in Ove’s lonely unpopular life till then. And Parvaneh acts as a well needed catalyst to bring them all together around her kitchen table.

Ove has grown up through loses, false accusations and undeserved attacks. And then one day, he found a woman in a dress on the train. Sonja was the only person who had loved Ove. Ove with his unreasonable hatred towards people who drove Japanese cars; Ove with his strict rules to keep the bicycles only in the bicycle shed; Ove who redid the whole kitchen all by himself after the accident; Ove who stood up to the white shirts and held her thumb tightly in between his fingers.

And now, when the colourful coats and shawls remain untouched, and the void of her absence becomes unbearable, a half frozen Cat Annoyance decides to spend his ninth life with Ove. They found comfort and solace with each other, which both of them will happily deny.

Though he would never admit, Ove allows others to love him and slowly fill in some of the hollows inside him; and secretly reciprocates with his subtle acts of care towards them, because Ove has quite literally got a big heart.

The smooth blending of all the characters and the roles they play, and the entirety of Ove’s life- from his childhood, his youth, till the time his company thinks it would be nice ” to slow down a bit” is undeniably clever and comforting. Under the blankets of humour, Backman has very carefully slipped in tiny lessons of life, and the grateful presence of others around us, otherwise deemed unimportant.

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