Ove (pronounced Oova) Lindahl is a 59 year old Swedish widower who has recently been laid off from work. He misses his wife Sonja desperately, and in his depression has decided to commit suicide. His many attempts at suicide though are routinely thwarted by his new nosy neighbors, and other hapless mortals who need his assistance at inopportune times.
This book, as you might have guessed :), is about Ove. Ove is a curmudgeonly fellow, allergic to technology and the dim-witted. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly which is a pity since in his opinion most young people are fools – they can’t build homes, fix unstuck windows or drive properly. A family comprising of such idiots has just moved into the neighborhood, and the lady of that house, a pregnant Iranian woman named Parvaneh is more than a match for Ove’s dry demeanor.
The book takes us through Ove’s suicide attempts. Interspersed between the descriptions of each attempt are the descriptions of events in Ove’s life, both past and present. By and by, we get to know the man behind the crusty exterior pretty well. He’s had bad times and good times, and in both we are with him, sympathizing when he is down and rejoicing when he is happy.
This is a book about the human condition – it does end well though. It is simply told, without embellishments and flourishes – the facts are placed before us and we are left to make what we will of them. It is also very moving, mostly because of the main character, who is good, but bad things still happen to him.
“A Man called Ove” has a certain good-humored charm. It rubs a little thin because of some repetitiveness; one can countenance the stupid-neighbor-needing-help plot only so much. I’d compare this book to “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” and “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” – better than the former and not quite as good as the latter.
Newbern is an excellent narrator. He brings Ove to life, and does a great job of the other characters too. He made this already pleasant book a joy to listen to.