Review by New York Times Review
American readers expecting Scandinavian best sellers to star rapists and serial killers may be surprised to hear that the latest Swedish blockbuster, translated by Rod Bradbury, features a centenarian named Allan who, tired of living in a nursing home, escapes out the window. Then again, some of Allan's slapstick adventures wouldn't seem out of place in a thriller: after auto-defenestrating he steals a suitcase containing 50 million crowns, then eludes both a criminal gang and the police. Along with Allan's present-day exploits, Jonasson fills us in on his protagonist's last 100 years. As it turns out, Allan had a knack for meeting global leaders (Franco, Truman, Stalin, Churchill, Mao) and for involving himself in global conflicts (the Spanish Civil War, the cold war). Through all this, Allan remained staunchly apolitical and unrelentingly cheery. It's a cute premise, but the right-place-right-time concept obviously isn't original (see "Forrest Gump" and "Zelig"). Moreover, it's easy to predict what will happen to Allan, since his life follows the course of a 20th-century history textbook. From 1943 to 1945, he's employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. A few years later, he finds himself in a Russian gulag. Where was the action in 1968? Why, Paris, of course. And Allan makes it there in time to witness the uprisings that nearly shut down the city. By then, the shtick has worn a little thin.
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [December 23, 2012]
Review by Booklist Review
Desperate to avoid his 100th birthday party, Allan Karlsson climbs out the window of his room at the nursing home and heads to the nearest bus station, intending to travel as far as his pocket money will take him. But a spur-of-the-moment decision to steal a suitcase from a fellow passenger sends Allan on a strange and unforeseen journey involving, among other things, some nasty criminals, a very large pile of cash, and an elephant named Sonya. It's just another chapter in a life full of adventures for Allan, who has become entangled in the major events of the twentieth century, including the Spanish Civil War and the Manhattan Project. As Allan's colorful and complex history merges with his present-day escapades, readers will be treated to a new and charmingly funny version of world history and get to know a very youthful old man whose global influence knows no age limit. An international best-seller, this is an engaging tale of one man's life lived to the fullest.--Gladstein, Carol Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Jonasson's laugh-out-loud debut (a bestseller in Europe) reaches the U.S. three years after its Swedish publication, in Bradbury's pitch-perfect translation. The intricately plotted saga of Allan Karlsson begins when he escapes his retirement home on his 100th birthday by climbing out his bedroom window. After stealing a young punk's money-filled suitcase, he embarks on a wild adventure, and through a combination of wits, luck, and circumstance, ends up on the lam from both a smalltime criminal syndicate and the police. Jonasson moves deftly through Karlsson's life-from present to past and back again-recounting the fugitive centenarian's career as a demolitions expert and the myriad critical junctures of history, including the Spanish Civil War and the Manhattan Project, wherein Karlsson found himself an unwitting (and often influential) participant. Historical figures like Mao's third wife, Vice President Truman, and Stalin appear, to great comic effect. Other characters-most notably Albert Einstein's hapless half-brother-are cleverly spun into the raucous yarn, and all help drive this gentle lampoon of procedurals and thrillers. Agent: Anna Soler-Pont, Pontas Literary. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
When nursing home resident Allan Karlsson climbs out the nursing home window to avoid his 100th birthday party and to get his hands on some liquor he accidentally ends up with a suitcase full of cash. He then boards a bus without a destination to get away from the home's vile director, who strictly controls the community's vodka consumption. Meanwhile, the mayor has shown up for the birthday party to find out that his photo op has disappeared and sends the entire police force after the geriatric fugitive. Once the suitcase owner/thief discovers his money is gone, he gives pursuit. Soon everyone finds out a 100-year-old man can be very resourceful. Joining Allan's journey is the owner of a hot dog stand, a crime boss, a watermelon farmer, a beauty, and a criminal-crushing elephant. This impossible and impossibly hilarious odyssey is peppered with famous people and memorable events from history with a twist of the bizarre. Narrated by Steven Crossley, this is a marvelous marriage of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Forrest Gump and highly recommended. Verdict Readers will be absolutely charmed by Allan and his adventurous spirit as well as his companions, both human and otherwise. ["This quirky novel is a sly, satirical look back at international relations in the 20th century through the eyes of an old man who has seen it all," read the review of the Hyperion hc, LJ 9/1/12.-Ed.]-Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix P. L. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A Swedish debut novel that will keep readers chuckling. Allan Karlsson has just turned 100, and the Old Folks' Home is about to give him a birthday party that he absolutely doesn't want. So he leaves out his window and high-tails it to a bus station, with no particular destination in mind. On a whim, he steals a suitcase and boards a bus. The suitcase's owner, a criminal, will do anything to get it back. This is the basis for a story that is loaded with absurdities from beginning to end--the old coot has plenty of energy for his age and an abiding love of vodka. The story goes back and forth between the current chase and his long, storied life. From childhood, he has shown talent with explosives. This knack catches the attention of many world leaders of the 20th century: Franco, Truman, Stalin, Mao and Kim Il Sung, to name a few of the people he meets. Want to blow up bridges? Allan's your man. Want much bigger explosions? Just pour him a drink. He's neither immoral nor amoral, but he is certainly detached, and he is absolutely apolitical. In the past, he insults Stalin (luckily, the translator faints), learns Russian in a gulag and walks back to Sweden from China, barely surviving execution in Iran along the way. In the present, he meets a strange and delightful collection of friends and enemies. Coincidence and absurdity are at the core of this silly and wonderful novel. Looking back, it seems there are no hilarious, roll-on-the-floor-laughing scenes. They will just keep readers amused almost nonstop, and that's a feat few writers achieve. A great cure for the blues, especially for anyone who might feel bad about growing older.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.