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Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review).
Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.
A Man Called Ove
A MAN CALLED OVE BUYS A COMPUTER THAT IS NOT A COMPUTER
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.
The assistant, a young man with a single-digit body mass index, looks ill at ease. He visibly struggles to control his urge to snatch the box out of Ove’s hands.
“Yes, exactly. An iPad. Do you think you could stop shaking it like that . . . ?”
Ove gives the box a skeptical glance, as if it’s a highly dubious sort of box, a box that rides a scooter and wears tracksuit pants and just called Ove “my friend” before offering to sell him a watch.
“I see. So it’s a computer, yes?”
The sales assistant nods. Then hesitates and quickly shakes his head.
“Yes . . . or, what I mean is, it’s an iPad. Some people call it a ‘tablet’ and others call it a ‘surfing device.’ There are different ways of looking at it. . . .”
Ove looks at the sales assistant as if he has just spoken backwards, before shaking the box again.
“But is it good, this thing?”
The assistant nods confusedly. “Yes. Or . . . How do you mean?”
Ove sighs and starts talking slowly, articulating his words as if the only problem here is his adversary’s impaired hearing.
“Is. It. Goooood? Is it a good computer?”
The assistant scratches his chin.
“I mean . . . yeah . . . it’s really good . . . but it depends what sort of computer you want.”
Ove glares at him.
“I want a computer! A normal bloody computer!”
Silence descends over the two men for a short while. The assistant clears his throat.
“Well . . . it isn’t really a normal computer. Maybe you’d rather have a . . .”
The assistant stops and seems to be looking for a word that falls within the bounds of comprehension of the man facing him. Then he clears his throat again and says:
“. . . a laptop?”
Ove shakes his head wildly and leans menacingly over the counter.
“No, I don’t want a ‘laptop.’ I want a computer.”
The assistant nods pedagogically.
“A laptop is a computer.”
Ove, insulted, glares at him and stabs his forefinger at the counter.
“You think I don’t know that!”
Another silence, as if two gunmen have suddenly realized they have forgotten to bring their pistols. Ove looks at the box for a long time, as though he’s waiting for it to make a confession.
“Where does the keyboard pull out?” he mutters eventually.
The sales assistant rubs his palms against the edge of the counter and shifts his weight nervously from foot to foot, as young men employed in retail outlets often do when they begin to understand that something is going to take considerably more time than they had initially hoped.
“Well, this one doesn’t actually have a keyboard.”
Ove does something with his eyebrows. “Ah, of course,” he splutters. “Because you have to buy it as an ‘extra,’ don’t you?”
“No, what I mean is that the computer doesn’t have a separate keyboard. You control everything from the screen.”
Ove shakes his head in disbelief, as if he’s just witnessed the sales assistant walking around the counter and licking the glass-fronted display cabinet.
“But I have to have a keyboard. You do understand that?”
The young man sighs deeply, as if patiently counting to ten.
“Okay. I understand. In that case I don’t think you should go for this computer. I think you should buy something like a MacBook instead.”
“A McBook?” Ove says, far from convinced. “Is that one of those blessed ‘eReaders’ everyone’s talking about?”
“No. A MacBook is a . . . it’s a . . . laptop, with a keyboard.”
“Okay!” Ove hisses. He looks around the shop for a moment. “So are they any good, then?”
The sales assistant looks down at the counter in a way that seems to reveal a fiercely yet barely controlled desire to begin clawing his own face. Then he suddenly brightens, flashing an energetic smile.
“You know what? Let me see if my colleague has finished with his customer, so he can come and give you a demonstration.”
Ove checks his watch and grudgingly agrees, reminding the assistant that some people have better things to do than stand around all day waiting. The assistant gives him a quick nod, then disappears and comes back after a few moments with a colleague. The colleague looks very happy, as people do when they have not been working for a sufficient stretch of time as sales assistants.
“Hi, how can I help you?”
Ove drills his police-flashlight finger into the counter.
“I want a computer!”
The colleague no longer looks quite as happy. He gives the first sales assistant an insinuating glance as if to say he’ll pay him back for this.
In the meantime the first sales assistant mutters, “I can’t take anymore, I’m going for lunch.”
“Lunch,” snorts Ove. “That’s the only thing people care about nowadays.”
“I’m sorry?” says the colleague and turns around.
“Lunch!” He sneers, then tosses the box onto the counter and swiftly walks out.
"A light hearted, deeply moving novel about a grumpy but loveable curmudgeon who finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door. This quirky debut is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the impact one life has on countless others—and an absolute delight."CBS Local
“You will laugh, you will cry, as his heartbreaking story unfolds through the diverse cast of characters that enter his life, all uninvited. You will never look at the grumpy people who come into your life in quite the same way. A very memorable read."Best Books of 2015 San Diego Union Tribune
“A charming debut…You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel new sympathy for the curmudgeons in your life. You’ll also want to move to Scandinavia, where everything’s cuter.”People
“Even the most serious reader of fiction needs light relief, and for that afternoon when all you want is charm, this is the perfect book."San Francisco Chronicle
"An inspiring affirmation of love for life and acceptance of people for their essence and individual quirks. A Man Called Ove is a perfect selection for book clubs. It's well written and replete with universal concerns. It lacks violence and profanity, is life-affirming and relationship-driven. The book is bittersweet, tender, often wickedly humorous and almost certain to elicit tears. I contentedly wept my way through a box of tissues when I first read the novel and again when I savored it for a second time.”BookBrowse.com
"A Man Called Ove is exquisite. The lyrical language is the confetti thrown liberally throughout this celebration-of-life story, adding sparkle and color to an already spectacular party. Backman's characters feel so authentic that readers will likely find analogues living in their own neighborhoods."Shelf Awareness (starred review)
"Readers seeking feel-good tales with a message will rave about the rantings of this solitary old man with a singular outlook. If there was an award for 'Most Charming Book of the Year,' this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down."Starred Review Booklist
“Poignant and unpredictable, Backman’s book is filled with many twists and turns, as well as enjoyable characters and humorous situations."Columbia Tribune (Missouri)
"There are characters who amuse us, and stories that touch us. But this character and his story do even more: A Man Called Ove makes us think about who we are and how we want to live our lives. A Man Called Ove seems deceptively simple at the start, yet Frederik Backman packs a lifetime's worth of hilarity and heartbreak into this novel. Even the most crusty curmudgeon will love Ove!"Lois Leveen
“One of the most moving novels I have read this year. I defy anyone to read this book and look at a quiet withdrawn person the same way ever again.”Cayacosta Reviews
“[T]he revelations about his past are what make the story so endearing. Suffice it to say that along with the characters in the story, who come to discover that Ove is more than just the grumpy old man they first met, the reader is in for an enjoyable ride. A Man Called Ove reminds us that even the most difficult people have a back story that helps explain their current way of interacting- and perhaps, reveals the positive side of those qualities.”eMissourian.com
"If you have not heard of this author, Fredrik Backman, you are in for a major treat. Major.”Dunn County News