A Man Called Ove

- Fredrik Backman


At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d’etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents’ Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so?

In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible . . .



Ove is fifty-nine.
He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s flashlight. He stands at the counter of a shop where owners of Japanese cars come to purchase white cables. Ove eyes the sales assistant for a long time before shaking a medium-sized white box at him.
“So this is one of those O-Pads, is it?” he demands.


solid, good read:
Backman snuck up on me with this one. This is my second attempt at his work – I DNFed Anxious People last year, and for the first half of A Man Called Ove, I was starting to question why everyone is so obsessed with his writing. And then, before I even realised I was captivated by the story, I was sobbing. Just a little bit here and there until the last few chapters, which were punctuated by loud, embarrassing sobs. I’m very glad I stayed up late to finish reading rather than waiting to finish it on my lunch break at work tomorrow…

Ove is not likeable. Even when he’s doing nice things, it’s in a vaguely problematic way meant to be as off-putting as possible. He has a strict moral code that makes life difficult for himself and everyone else around him. If we hadn’t met Sonja’s father, I would be seriously questioning the likelihood of their supposedly happy marriage. Lucky for Ove, her father seemingly prepared her for life with a strong, reclusive partner.

Because of Ove’s personality, the sweet moments come out of nowhere and hit you hard.
That first ‘Granddad‘ near the end was the catalyst to the aforementioned ‘chapters of sobbing’.
I’m still not entirely sure that I liked A Man Called Ove, but I was certainly emotionally invested in what happened. It’s encouraged me to approach more of Backman’s writing with less hesitancy.



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