Poignant and unabashedly presumptuous, Jonas Jonasson’s satiric account of a one hundred year old man’s tumultuous trek through time is laced with every element of corruption you can name – betrayal, criminal injustice, sadism, homicide, murder… and it’s hilarious.
The 100 Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared recounts the fictitious tale of Allan Karlsson – a restless, free-spirited soul who breaks free from his prison of a convalescent home on his 100th birthday and inadvertently stumbles into adventure. Interwoven throughout the story are snippets of Allan’s life leading up to his bold escape, snippets as preposterous as they are profound.
The first snippet introduces Allan at a young age when he begins to develop a peculiar passion for demolition. His vast knowledge of the art of explosions brings him into contact with some of the most famous leaders of his lifetime, including American presidents like Truman, Johnson, and Nixon, as well as leaders on the other side of the planet, like Stalin and Kim Jong Un, who utilize Allan’s dangerous, yet desirable skills for their own political endeavors. Although Allan has no desire to involve himself with politics – often stating that “Politics is not only unnecessary, but sometimes also unnecessarily complicated” – he voluntarily contributes his services to either side, whether it be socialist or democratic, in exchange for a glass of vodka, or simply because he has nothing better to do.
Somehow, adventure always finds its way to Allan, whether he likes it or not – even at the ripe age of 100, Allan yet again finds himself at the center of excitement when he inadvertently claims ownership over a suitcase that holds over 100 million dollars. Allan’s accidental thieving drives the main plot of the book, and the absurdity of his unconventional existence continues.
The entire novel – the plot, the dialogue, the writing – is as blunt and to the point as its mouthful of a title. Its center can be summed up in one of Allan’s quotes: “things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be.” Jonasson, like his protagonist, writes what he wants to write and says what he wants to say – he teases mankind without subtlety, he twists history and manipulates fact simply because he can. He takes key events and figures from the past long immortalized in our textbooks and final exams, figures that we’ve been taught to both fear and applaud, and gives them a sense of humor – remembers them as characters to chuckle at instead. Above all, Jonasson reminds us to laugh – he reminds us to not take things so seriously all the time.
It’s witty, it’s hilarious, it’s entertaining. But by the end, it’ll leave you with something to think about too. Jonas Jonasson’s satiric, laugh-out-loud masterpiece is a breath of fresh air.
You can purchase a paperback copy of the book here.
“‘And not only that, Mr Stalin. I have been in China for the purpose of making war against Mao Tse-tung, before I went to Iran and prevented an attempt to assassinate Churchill,’ said Allan. ‘Churchill? That fat pig!’ Stalin shouted. Stalin recovered for a moment before downing a whole glass of vodka. Allan watched enviously. He too would like to have his glass filled, but didn’t think it was the right moment for such a request.” – The 100 Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson