JONASSON, Jonas. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. 2009. [Translated by Rod Bradbury]
‘Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police.’
There are two things you need to know about this book: it is a page-turner, it relies on black humour and it revisits key historical moments of the last century. There are also two things you need to know about me: I can’t count.
I always imagined this book would be a geriatric version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. And a fraction of it is, but this main character has lived a full century and that allows for an eventful parallel story. Allan has an unbelievable [literally, but then, it’s fiction] past closely linked to historical events and, for some reason, atomic bombs.
As you can imagine, a century-long story has place for numerous characters and Jonasson managed to make them all unique and interesting. Don’t expect a lot o character development since most of them have limited appearances. Also, humour doesn’t need characters to evolve.
To sum up, this novel has deservedly become a bestseller. The book is definitely better than the abstract at the back of the edition I read [text at the top of this post], which uses the Oxford comma in ‘a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police’. Nobody is stupid enough to think that the suitcase could be full of incompetent police. It appears someone is stupid enough to think someone else is.