The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared

Jonas Jonasson
Allen & Unwin
Published 12th September 2012 (in Australia)
Gifted by Allen & Unwin (thank you!)

The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared – this title pretty much wraps up the book. My friend started to ask me what it was about, saw the title, and was like “ah. I got it.” But the question on everyone’s lips – the director of the nursing home, the police, the media – is where did he go?

Alan Karlsson, previously mentioned One Hundred Year Old man, has had a remarkable life. A Swedish explosives expert, without religion or political design, who just liked to blow stuff up somehow got caught up in some of the biggest events over the last one hundred years. But now he is one hundred years old and his life is starting to feel a bit stagnant. So, while there is a whole party in his nursing home waiting for him, he decides to climb out his window in his slippers with only a little trouble, and sets off in a random direction, ending up at the bus station where he goes as far as fifty crowns will take him. Behind him he drags a stolen suitcase.

What begins is a crazy chase through Sweden involving the centenarian, a small gang called ‘Never Again’, a petty thief, a hot dog proprietor, an elephant, a swearing redhead, a dog, the police and the media, as well as tracking Allan’s unbelievable life story up until the present moment. It’s all a bit absurd but you won’t find a more entertaining read. I was getting stared at on the train because I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of the things to come out of Allan’s mouth. Here is one man who singlehandedly influenced the most important events, that inadvertently shaped the future, and somehow floats between countries, embassies and just goes where the wind takes him. He meets some strange, wonderful and interesting characters along the way, and while the array of world leaders he dines with is impressive, the most interesting characters were those the 100 year old picks up along his runaway jaunt from the nursing home – although I thoroughly enjoyed the character of Herbert Einstein, Albert Einstein’s unknown half brother. And if you think it’s strange that a one hundred year old man would just climb out the window and wander away, wait until you read a little further into his history and you’ll get it. You’ll realise that he is exactly the type of man, one hundred years old or not, who would climb out the window when the time suited him, to escape a witch of a nursing home director and head back out into the world.

There’s not really what I would call character development, and the plot development may strike you as bizarre or absurd, and you may, like me, wonder about the lack of “” marks, but nonetheless its an entertaining story and there are times when convention can be ignored.

Jonas Jonasson has delivered a fun-filled and comic adventure through world history and politics, led by a sweet and naïve Swede who had no idea what he was doing. For the readers who need something light, that they don’t want to take too seriously, I would definitely recommend this.


Overall rating? 4 stars


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