Thursday, 27 July 2017

#17 A book that became a film

 A Man Called Ove  - Fredrik Backman (translated from Swedish by Henning Koch)

A grumpy old man
+ a cat that won’t leave
+ a pregnant Iranian neighbour
+ a lot more eccentric characters come together to tell us a story filled with a certain delightful aura that we don’t find in stories nowadays.

And the fact of the matter is – it is a very simple story - Ove, a grumpy old man living in a housing community with a clockwork daily routine. He wakes up daily and inspects his neighbourhood, to check if all the rules are followed, checks if all the signs are still standing, locks up any stray bicycle left outside, shovels snow from his front steps and in general makes sure that everyone strictly follows the community rules.

Though cranky, and an adherent of strict principles he has a kind heart that is revealed to us slowly. As a young couple moves in next door, with two young daughters as well, his solitary life is shaken up and more changes than he could have ever expected is heralded into the small community living there.

“People said he was bitter. Maybe they were right. He’d never reflected much on it. People also called him antisocial. Ove assumed this meant he wasn’t overly keen on people. And in this instance he could totally agree with them. More often than not people were out of their minds.”

I wouldn’t reveal anything more about the story – it is a heart-warming tale that leaves you feeling warm and renews your belief in the simple joys of truth, love and human companionship. It is a tale that belongs to a generation which time forgot but one which should clearly be remembered.

“One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead.”

Ove’s life has been shaped by what has happened to him, and we are slowly led to understand how much every action in our lives have meanings and significance that can last a lifetime.

There is a touch of dark comedy and sarcastic wit throughout the story, which at times will make you smile. And there are other parts, from his flashback that will leave you teary-eyed. This book was originally written in Swedish and was made into a movie too (again in Swedish). But, the movie too has been able to capture the essence of the story, ably carried the tough task of transforming the bitter old man into a much loved ‘Ove’.

"Ove understood things he could see and touch...he was a man of black and white."
He may not be a person one could love, since he is grumpy, anti-social, staunch, strict and all that – but you will love Ove, he is one of a kind. Just read this book!

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