The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

4.3 59
by Jonas Jonasson, Steven Crossley
     
 

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Allan Karlsson, resident of a nursing home in a small Swedish town, is about to be celebrated at his 100th birthday party with the press, the mayor, and the entire nursing staff and fellow residents in attendance. But Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his alcohol consumption), so he decides to escape. He climbs out

Overview


Allan Karlsson, resident of a nursing home in a small Swedish town, is about to be celebrated at his 100th birthday party with the press, the mayor, and the entire nursing staff and fellow residents in attendance. But Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his alcohol consumption), so he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his “pee slippers” and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey. At the same time we discover Allan’s larger–than–life back story: not only has he witnessed, Zelig–like, some of the most important events of the twentieth century but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting as an explosives expert, he finds himself involved in the development of the atomic bomb and in his travels throughout the world, shares meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman, to Mao, Franco, and De Gaulle.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jonasson’s laugh-out-loud debut (a bestseller in Europe) reaches the U.S. three years after its Swedish publication, in Bradbury’s pitch-perfect translation. The intricately plotted saga of Allan Karlsson begins when he escapes his retirement home on his 100th birthday by climbing out his bedroom window. After stealing a young punk’s money-filled suitcase, he embarks on a wild adventure, and through a combination of wits, luck, and circumstance, ends up on the lam from both a smalltime criminal syndicate and the police. Jonasson moves deftly through Karlsson’s life—from present to past and back again—recounting the fugitive centenarian’s career as a demolitions expert and the myriad critical junctures of history, including the Spanish Civil War and the Manhattan Project, wherein Karlsson found himself an unwitting (and often influential) participant. Historical figures like Mao’s third wife, Vice President Truman, and Stalin appear, to great comic effect. Other characters—most notably Albert Einstein’s hapless half-brother—are cleverly spun into the raucous yarn, and all help drive this gentle lampoon of procedurals and thrillers. Agent: Anna Soler-Pont, Pontas Literary. (Sept.)
The Guardian
"Scandi-crime's signature darkness is here dispelled by Allan Karlsson, the eponymous centenarian, who with unlikely sprightliness hops out of the window of his old people's home one afternoon . . . Fast-moving and relentlessly sunny . . . Like Allan, the plot is pleasingly nimble and the book's endearing charm offers a happy alternative to the more familiar Nordic noir."
People
"[A] witty caper. ***1/2"
Marie Claire
"The anti Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. . . Jonasson's lighthearted novel shows the softer side of Sweden. . . . hilarious."
The Sunday Times
"A mordantly funny and loopily freewheeling debut novel about ageing disgracefully."
The Bookseller
"Eccentric, unusual and far-fetched in the best possible way."
The Telegraph
"Imaginative, laugh-out-loud . . . a brilliant satire on the foibles of mankind."
From the Publisher
"[A] witty caper. ***1/2"—People"

[A] silly and wonderful novel. [The scenes] will just keep readers amused almost non-stop, and that's a feat few writers achieve. A great cure for the blues, especially for anyone who might feel bad about growing older."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred"

The anti Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. . . Jonasson's lighthearted novel shows the softer side of Sweden. . . . hilarious."—Marie Claire"

Scandi-crime's signature darkness is here dispelled by Allan Karlsson, the eponymous centenarian, who with unlikely sprightliness hops out of the window of his old people's home one afternoon . . . Fast-moving and relentlessly sunny . . . Like Allan, the plot is pleasingly nimble and the book's endearing charm offers a happy alternative to the more familiar Nordic noir."—The Guardian"

[A] laugh-out-loud debut . . . Historical figures like Mao's third wife, Vice President Truman, and Stalin appear, to great comic effect. Other characters-most notably Albert Einstein's hapless half-brother-are cleverly spun into the raucous yarn, and all help drive this gentle lampoon of procedurals and thrillers."—Publishers Weekly, Starred"

A mordantly funny and loopily freewheeling debut novel about ageing disgracefully."—The Sunday Times"

Eccentric, unusual and far-fetched in the best possible way."—The Bookseller"

This quirky novel is a sly, satirical look back at international relations in the 20th century through the eyes of an old man who has seen it all."—Library Journal"

Imaginative, laugh-out-loud . . . a brilliant satire on the foibles of mankind."—The Telegraph

Library Journal
Swedish author Jonasson received rave reviews in Europe for this first novel, a best seller there. But this picaresque tale with its deadpan humor is not your typical American-style blockbuster. Allan Karlsson, the centenarian who sneaks out of his nursing home, is an expert on explosives who has led an outsize life. In his travels, he has not only met just about every famous and infamous world leader but has inadvertently played a significant role in many world events. The book has been compared to both Forrest Gump and Zelig, but while this novel is not sentimental like Forrest Gump, neither is it as funny as Zelig. Chapters alternate between Allan's big adventures in the past and in the present, where he gets mixed up with a zany bunch of Swedes and a former circus elephant as they try to avoid both cops and gangsters. VERDICT This quirky novel is a sly, satirical look back at international relations in the 20th century through the eyes of an old man who has seen it all.—Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA
Kirkus Reviews
A Swedish debut novel that will keep readers chuckling. Allan Karlsson has just turned 100, and the Old Folks' Home is about to give him a birthday party that he absolutely doesn't want. So he leaves out his window and high-tails it to a bus station, with no particular destination in mind. On a whim, he steals a suitcase and boards a bus. The suitcase's owner, a criminal, will do anything to get it back. This is the basis for a story that is loaded with absurdities from beginning to end--the old coot has plenty of energy for his age and an abiding love of vodka. The story goes back and forth between the current chase and his long, storied life. From childhood, he has shown talent with explosives. This knack catches the attention of many world leaders of the 20th century: Franco, Truman, Stalin, Mao and Kim Il Sung, to name a few of the people he meets. Want to blow up bridges? Allan's your man. Want much bigger explosions? Just pour him a drink. He's neither immoral nor amoral, but he is certainly detached, and he is absolutely apolitical. In the past, he insults Stalin (luckily, the translator faints), learns Russian in a gulag and walks back to Sweden from China, barely surviving execution in Iran along the way. In the present, he meets a strange and delightful collection of friends and enemies. Coincidence and absurdity are at the core of this silly and wonderful novel. Looking back, it seems there are no hilarious, roll-on-the-floor-laughing scenes. They will just keep readers amused almost nonstop, and that's a feat few writers achieve. A great cure for the blues, especially for anyone who might feel bad about growing older.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620643099
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
05/28/2013
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
10
Sales rank:
291,076
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Jonas Jonasson is a former journalist and media consultant. He lives in Sweden.

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The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared 4.3 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 59 reviews.
TheRelentlessReader More than 1 year ago
Crazy, silly, sweet, quirky, hilarious. Every page in this book is action packed and you'll have no idea what is going to happen next. Go ahead and guess, you'll never be able to predict a damn thing. This was an absolute joy to read...it was like listening to your funny drunken uncle trying to give a history lesson. Delightful! FYI, the book was originally rejected by firms in the U.K. and in the U.S. (Fools! Fools, I tell you!) Read this book. If you have to beg, borrow, or steal it...do so! I'm serious...what are you waiting for? Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, but it seemed to drag a bit at the end. There were some very funny parts. Written much like the movie Forrest Gump where the man is unaware how his interactions effect history.
lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
Minutes before a birthday party held in honor of his 100th birthday, Allan Karlsson climbs out the window of his room at the nursing home. He walks over to the train station, and with no plans in his mind, he simply keeps on moving, meeting some interesting characters along the way. Allan has an incredibly carefree, go-with-the-flow spirit. I was fascinated to read about his many adventures, both current and past. The story was quirky, funny, with bits of history speckled throughout. Allan is a 100-year-old world traveler, after all - that's a lot of history! Allan is completely apolitical, yet somehow ends up smack in the middle of a number of major events of the 20th century. He approached his visits to foreign countries, and his conversations with world leaders, with a refreshing sort of naïveté. His complete apathy toward political matters gives the reader a strangely fresh, open-minded perspective. I found myself laughing out loud at fictional scenes such as: "Mao Tse-tung, Kim Il Sung, and Marshal Meretskov discussed the matter [of Allan's vacation] among themselves. Cuba popped up as a possibility, and the gentlemen concluded that you could hardly imagine somewhere more capitalist." I feel the character of Allan taps into a hope and fear that many of us have likely mulled over. Is it possible to experience a high quality of life as we live our final years? Will we be able to live according to our own whims and desires, or will we be stuck obeying a scheduled life in a nursing home? Do people in nursing homes ever think about escaping? "Allan told the man that his name was Allan, that he was exactly one hundred years old and spry for his age, so spry in fact that he was on the run from the old age home." From that sentence on, I found myself cheering Allan as he ignored and broke the rules to follow his own desires. Good for him, going on the run like that. And what pluck, sneaking out the window only minutes before a birthday bash that included the mayor and the media! I was charmed by the great happiness Allan found through simple things such as good food and plenty of spirits: "Allan felt so comprehensively satisfied that he began to be almost afraid of dying." This is an entertaining read that is quick without feeling mindless. I can see myself reading it again in the future.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared is the first novel by Swedish journalist, media consultant, television producer and author, Jonas Jonasson. On the spur of the moment, Allan Karlsson resolves to skip his hundredth birthday party at the Malmkoping Old Folks’ Home, despite the presence of the Mayor and a cake. At the bus station, he decides to head out of town, but just before the bus arrives, he finds himself looking after a large grey suitcase on wheels. As Allan travels further and further from the Old Folks’ Home, he is gradually accumulates a band of well-intentioned followers (a hot-dog seller, red-headed divorcee, petty thief in his late sixties, hot-dog seller’s estranged half-brother, Alsatian dog and circus elephant) as well as some pursuers intent on getting a story, on malice or on prosecution (the members of a criminal gang, the police, a prosecutor and journalists). And as they travel, Allen, a seemingly unassuming man with a patent enthusiasm for explosives, relates the story of his long and interesting life, a life that involves worldwide travel, that includes encounters with various heads of state and famous people and that sees Allen experimented on, incarcerated, involved in a momentous discovery and recruited for espionage. There are plenty of laughs and “aha” moments as Allen manages to get himself into and out of some hair-raising situations, always working with the philosophy that “things are what they are, and whatever will be, will be.” This novel has deservedly won international acclaim and is translated from the original Swedish by Rod Bradbury. It is a riotous romp through many of the significant events and people of the twentieth century that is highly reminiscent of Forrest Gump: completely contrived and utterly delightful. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter found this and asked if I was the man. Ipicked it up , read it straight through. I am obviously not him, but don't I wish I were! A GREAT read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book based on a review from a friend. This is a GREAT book full of historical reference wrapped with wonderful wit and suspense at every turn waiting to see what would happen next. You leave feeling that life is not that bad and that whatever will happen will happen - based on the personality of the book's main character. A wonderfully uplifting and very funny story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a bizarre tale with a wonderful ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very fun & easy read full of unlikely coincidences. Great beach or holiday read.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
The Hundred-Year-Old Who Climbed Out Through the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson is a fictional book which follows the adventures and mis-adventures of its protagonist. So far this book has been translated to 29 languages and has been a best seller in many countries. Allan Karlsson’s health is good, so good that to his dismay he is facing the horrors of putting up appearances for this 100th birthday. Leaving the mayor, the press, his friends and the bane of his existence – the nurse – behind, he escapes moments before the big celebration. When a young man asks Allan to keep an eye on his suitcase at the train station, the centenarian steals it and sets the ball rolling on a month long chase involving the police, the underworld and a handful of accomplices. Parallel to the escape, Allan’s long life is revealed to the reader. As it turned out, Allan is not just an old man with a suitcase, but one of the most influential persons to ever walk the face of the earth in the 20th Century. Alas, through the comedy of life, Allan is only remembered for his age. The Hundred-Year-Old Who Climbed Out Through the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson is a hilarious romp through the 20th Century. The book is very enjoyable and doesn’t take itself seriously. The book’s characters focus on lampooning the espionage genre and parody the mystery/chase genres as well. The important people Allan Karlsson, the protagonist, has met and influenced (Truman, Churchill, Mao, Lenin and more) shines a light on their dark side rather than the pillars of world affairs we have built them to be. Allan’s contribution to the Manhattan Project doesn’t get bypassed either. While I did get the feeling that the book was very much influenced from Forrest Gump and/or Woody Allen’s Zelig. Allen Karlsson is the eternal optimist, half way through the book it is clear that nothing will happen to him, but it is how he gets out of trouble and his unbelievable luck and improbable coincidences which makes the book so entertaining and endearing. The characters are not as well defined as they could be, but I still enjoyed this book very much, especially since it doesn’t take itself seriously.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clever. Funny. Brilliant! A journey through 100 years of world history through the eyes of an odd little man who "just happened" to be at the heart of many of the major events that occured. Definitely gives one hope that the twilight years can still hold adventure ...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a book i couldn't but down. It is quite funny.
aravistarkana More than 1 year ago
Charming read! You will fall in love with Alan (the protagonist) along with the group of conspirators he picks up along the way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
is the only word I can think of to describe this book. In the beginning the writing was clever, but by Chapter 3 it became clear it was going to become more and more absurd and redundant. I'm clearly in the minority here, but I honestly do not understand all the rave reviews. Save your money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cute story, much like Forrest Gump. I loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I randomly picked this book up at an airport bookstore so I had something to read on the plane -- best random decision ever. This quirky, hilarious book has easily become one of my favorite books of all time, if not THE favorite.  This totally bizarre (in a good way) book will have you laughing in disbelief throughout its entirety. Its side plot of the main character's life up to his 100th birthday is reflective of Forrest Gump in that this man stumbles his way into several major world events throughout history. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It has humor, history, action, and quirk. 
CarenHope More than 1 year ago
This book reminded me of the Woody Allen film "Zelig". Alan, the 100 year old man, reflects on his life meeting historical figures. These people mean nothing to Alan but that doesn't stop him from giving advice based on his career as an explosives expert. I enjoyed Alan's meeting with historical figures who followed his advice, especially his job at the Manhattan Project where he meets Harry Truman and they have a liquid lunch together. I smiled a lot reading this book. If you are in the mood for whimsy, this book is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Back..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im locked out of there. MEET ME AT" FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK"
MWgal More than 1 year ago
This book is positively HILARIOUS! It has smart humor and never disappoints. Would love to read more by him.
Leggo38 More than 1 year ago
This is a fun read. You will be laughing out loud. Marvelous for summer relaxing get away. Our book club read it and now my husband is reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It pretty much makes you want to smile a little. It's not like it's chock-full of life lessons, it's more like riding along on the adventure...I recommend.