A couple of months ago, a friend recommended the book, A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. I had not been able to get my hands on it and thought it must be a really good book, so popular that it was always on loan at all the libraries I visited. Then, last week, I saw it squeezed tight between two larger books on a shelf. I pulled it out, not without some difficulty, and somewhat to my disappointment, found that the font was miniscule. I considered putting it back, but decided otherwise.
This book is translated from the Swedish. I usually do not like reading translated works as there is always something (which I can’t describe) missing. I’ve experienced this many times, reading English books translated into Chinese or vice versa. Since A Man Called Ove came highly recommended, I decided to read it (though I did not enjoy Backman’s Britt-Marie Was Here, which I read last month).
To my chagrin, I found that each chapter in the book is an individually crafted short story, so the book is basically a series of interlinked short stories and not one lengthy novel of the kind I prefer. Still, I must say some of them are humorous and comic while others are warm and tender. There is also a certain charm amidst the wry descriptions and heartwarming tale.
Because my friend had sent me an excerpt (a typed copy of Chapter 1), and I loved what I read, I had high expectations of the book. Hence I felt quite let-down after all. Two things I didn’t enjoy in the book are the cat (a stray that would have died if not for Ove’s neighbours) and a chap called Jimmy (an overweight neighbour). Some parts are repetitive and not quite as funny as they should have been; but maybe I’m just as curmudgeonly as Ove?