The 100-year old man who climbed etc by Jonas Johansson

Cover imageAfter all the acclaim it has received I was looking forward to reading The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. The central character has gone through his life with three objectives: to drink vodka, and never to get involved in politics or religion. The book follows two threads: his adventures after climbing out of a window to avoid his 100th birthday party in the old people’s home where he lives, and flashbacks to incidents in his long life – incidents where he is ludicrously implanted into many of the major events of 20th century history.

It starts out well enough with a nice line in quirky humour that has a Spike Milligan feel about it, but for me it soon fell flat. There is no attempt at character development, or any of the usual features of a novel that involve the reader, just a sequence of nonsensical events with insufficient humour to carry it off. I found it dull and predictable. So why has it sold so many copies? Well, the title may have something to do with it. The curious length makes it appealing to Press reviewers which has resulted in a great deal of publicity. That title also conveys what has to be a very attractive theme of a novel; the very idea of a 100-year-old climbing out of a window and making his escape, has an undeniable attraction. And in the UK at least, Amazon had the book on special offer at only 20p which must have boosted sales enormously.

I was one who took advantage of that 20p offer when I bought for Kindle from Amazon. Print format also available. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared