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A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

4.5 219
by Fredrik Backman

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Read the New York Times bestseller that has taken the world by storm!

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But


Read the New York Times bestseller that has taken the world by storm!

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review).

Editorial Reviews

CBS Local
"A light hearted, deeply moving novel about a grumpy but loveable curmudgeon who finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door. This quirky debut is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the impact one life has on countless others—and an absolute delight."
Best Books of 2015 San Diego Union Tribune
“You will laugh, you will cry, as his heartbreaking story unfolds through the diverse cast of characters that enter his life, all uninvited. You will never look at the grumpy people who come into your life in quite the same way. A very memorable read."
“[T]he revelations about his past are what make the story so endearing. Suffice it to say that along with the characters in the story, who come to discover that Ove is more than just the grumpy old man they first met, the reader is in for an enjoyable ride. A Man Called Ove reminds us that even the most difficult people have a back story that helps explain their current way of interacting- and perhaps, reveals the positive side of those qualities.”
Dunn County News
"If you have not heard of this author, Fredrik Backman, you are in for a major treat. Major.”
“A charming debut…You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel new sympathy for the curmudgeons in your life. You’ll also want to move to Scandinavia, where everything’s cuter.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Even the most serious reader of fiction needs light relief, and for that afternoon when all you want is charm, this is the perfect book."
"An inspiring affirmation of love for life and acceptance of people for their essence and individual quirks. A Man Called Ove is a perfect selection for book clubs. It's well written and replete with universal concerns. It lacks violence and profanity, is life-affirming and relationship-driven. The book is bittersweet, tender, often wickedly humorous and almost certain to elicit tears. I contentedly wept my way through a box of tissues when I first read the novel and again when I savored it for a second time.”
Shelf Awareness (starred review)
"A Man Called Ove is exquisite. The lyrical language is the confetti thrown liberally throughout this celebration-of-life story, adding sparkle and color to an already spectacular party. Backman's characters feel so authentic that readers will likely find analogues living in their own neighborhoods."
Starred Review Booklist
"Readers seeking feel-good tales with a message will rave about the rantings of this solitary old man with a singular outlook. If there was an award for 'Most Charming Book of the Year,' this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down."
Columbia Tribune (Missouri)
“Poignant and unpredictable, Backman’s book is filled with many twists and turns, as well as enjoyable characters and humorous situations."
Lois Leveen
"There are characters who amuse us, and stories that touch us. But this character and his story do even more: A Man Called Ove makes us think about who we are and how we want to live our lives. A Man Called Ove seems deceptively simple at the start, yet Frederik Backman packs a lifetime's worth of hilarity and heartbreak into this novel. Even the most crusty curmudgeon will love Ove!"
Cayacosta Reviews
“One of the most moving novels I have read this year. I defy anyone to read this book and look at a quiet withdrawn person the same way ever again.”

Product Details

Atria Books
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Read an Excerpt

A Man Called Ove

  • 1


    Ove is fifty-nine.

    He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s flashlight. He stands at the counter of a shop where owners of Japanese cars come to purchase white cables. Ove eyes the sales assistant for a long time before shaking a medium-sized white box at him.

    “So this is one of those O-Pads, is it?” he demands.

    The assistant, a young man with a single-digit body mass index, looks ill at ease. He visibly struggles to control his urge to snatch the box out of Ove’s hands.

    “Yes, exactly. An iPad. Do you think you could stop shaking it like that . . . ?”

    Ove gives the box a skeptical glance, as if it’s a highly dubious sort of box, a box that rides a scooter and wears tracksuit pants and just called Ove “my friend” before offering to sell him a watch.

    “I see. So it’s a computer, yes?”

    The sales assistant nods. Then hesitates and quickly shakes his head.

    “Yes . . . or, what I mean is, it’s an iPad. Some people call it a ‘tablet’ and others call it a ‘surfing device.’ There are different ways of looking at it. . . .”

    Ove looks at the sales assistant as if he has just spoken backwards, before shaking the box again.

    “But is it good, this thing?”

    The assistant nods confusedly. “Yes. Or . . . How do you mean?”

    Ove sighs and starts talking slowly, articulating his words as if the only problem here is his adversary’s impaired hearing.

    “Is. It. Goooood? Is it a good computer?”

    The assistant scratches his chin.

    “I mean . . . yeah . . . it’s really good . . . but it depends what sort of computer you want.”

    Ove glares at him.

    “I want a computer! A normal bloody computer!”

    Silence descends over the two men for a short while. The assistant clears his throat.

    “Well . . . it isn’t really a normal computer. Maybe you’d rather have a . . .”

    The assistant stops and seems to be looking for a word that falls within the bounds of comprehension of the man facing him. Then he clears his throat again and says:

    “. . . a laptop?”

    Ove shakes his head wildly and leans menacingly over the counter.

    “No, I don’t want a ‘laptop.’ I want a computer.”

    The assistant nods pedagogically.

    “A laptop is a computer.”

    Ove, insulted, glares at him and stabs his forefinger at the counter.

    “You think I don’t know that!”

    Another silence, as if two gunmen have suddenly realized they have forgotten to bring their pistols. Ove looks at the box for a long time, as though he’s waiting for it to make a confession.

    “Where does the keyboard pull out?” he mutters eventually.

    The sales assistant rubs his palms against the edge of the counter and shifts his weight nervously from foot to foot, as young men employed in retail outlets often do when they begin to understand that something is going to take considerably more time than they had initially hoped.

    “Well, this one doesn’t actually have a keyboard.”

    Ove does something with his eyebrows. “Ah, of course,” he splutters. “Because you have to buy it as an ‘extra,’ don’t you?”

    “No, what I mean is that the computer doesn’t have a separate keyboard. You control everything from the screen.”

    Ove shakes his head in disbelief, as if he’s just witnessed the sales assistant walking around the counter and licking the glass-fronted display cabinet.

    “But I have to have a keyboard. You do understand that?”

    The young man sighs deeply, as if patiently counting to ten.

    “Okay. I understand. In that case I don’t think you should go for this computer. I think you should buy something like a MacBook instead.”

    “A McBook?” Ove says, far from convinced. “Is that one of those blessed ‘eReaders’ everyone’s talking about?”

    “No. A MacBook is a . . . it’s a . . . laptop, with a keyboard.”

    “Okay!” Ove hisses. He looks around the shop for a moment. “So are they any good, then?”

    The sales assistant looks down at the counter in a way that seems to reveal a fiercely yet barely controlled desire to begin clawing his own face. Then he suddenly brightens, flashing an energetic smile.

    “You know what? Let me see if my colleague has finished with his customer, so he can come and give you a demonstration.”

    Ove checks his watch and grudgingly agrees, reminding the assistant that some people have better things to do than stand around all day waiting. The assistant gives him a quick nod, then disappears and comes back after a few moments with a colleague. The colleague looks very happy, as people do when they have not been working for a sufficient stretch of time as sales assistants.

    “Hi, how can I help you?”

    Ove drills his police-flashlight finger into the counter.

    “I want a computer!”

    The colleague no longer looks quite as happy. He gives the first sales assistant an insinuating glance as if to say he’ll pay him back for this.

    In the meantime the first sales assistant mutters, “I can’t take anymore, I’m going for lunch.”

    “Lunch,” snorts Ove. “That’s the only thing people care about nowadays.”

    “I’m sorry?” says the colleague and turns around.

    “Lunch!” He sneers, then tosses the box onto the counter and swiftly walks out.

  • Meet the Author

    Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, as well as a novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. His books are published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Beartown is his latest novel.

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    A Man Called Ove: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 219 reviews.
    sierra2 More than 1 year ago
    I haven't enjoyed a book like this in a long time. It is written is such a way that Mr. Ove becomes real in your life. The author lets you be upset with him, feel his pain and loneliness and sadness and then lets you see his heart and then his vulnerability. This is a book that I will give as gifts at Christmas and birthdays just because it is written in such a way that it captivates you. I couldn't put it down and I have reviewed quite a lot of books. To the point that I woke up and grabbed the book to see what happened next. I am going to read it again just for the sheer enjoyment of it. Thank you for an excellent book. I want to read more of this authors books for sure.
    JOMONV More than 1 year ago
    This is a wonderful book. If you liked the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry you will love this book. It's heartwarming, heartbreaking, and humorous at the same time. Really enjoyed it - highly recommend.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I've read a lot of books on my Nook over the past 7 years but this is the first time i've felt compelled to write a review. What a wonderfully written and totally engaging book this was - funny and sad with fantastic characters. I rarely reread books but i will with this one, and i'll eagerly awaut the next book from this gifted author.
    Rita_in_NC More than 1 year ago
    I absolutely loved this book.  I spaced out the last pages because I didn't want the story to end.   It was absolutely heart-warming.
    BlueSpark More than 1 year ago
    Anything I write about this book pales when compared to my wonderful experience reading it. So remember that if you read the rest of this. Most of the book was full of moments when I had to pause because I was laughing so much. On the other hand, at times something would suddenly happen that caused me to pause because the tears in my eyes kept me from seeing the page. Ove is a grumpy old man who seems older than his 58 years. The fun for the reader is meeting him and then slowly understanding him. You will have varying reactions to him. I would not dare give any spoilers; I want you to have the same experience as I did so that you get to discover for yourself the author's skill in creating and weaving the stories of these lively characters. (Notice the difference in the names of the chapters as all the chapters are named only two different names.) Trust me, you will value your experience reading this book. For me, Ove was an unexpected treasure of a book. I read all the time and yet, I can't think of any other book to compare it to. Maybe a bit of John Irving, but only slightly. When you are through reading this book, pass it along to a friend. Give it as gifts. I know I am.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is the way to tell a story. I could not put it down and I did not want it to end.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Interesting mix of characters Makes you smile, laugh, cheer and cry
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This was a book that had me within the first few sentences. I could hear Ove's voice (the one I gave him) all the way through to the end. The humor is the dry sometimes sarcastic type that I love. When will his other books be translated???? I cannot wait to see if they are as good.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Fictionophile More than 1 year ago
    Ove is a loveable curmudgeon in late middle-age. He is ever so slightly OCD and has a problem with the machinations of society. Ove is very set in his ways and is disdainful of almost everyone he meets. He has a fondness for rules and thinks that anyone who doesn’t follow them is a harbinger of chaos. He has always driven a Saab car and thinks that what car a person drives tells a lot about a person. His story is told in a series of flashbacks which makes the reader cognizant of all the loss and sadness that Ove has encountered in his life along with all the many talents he possesses. In the present, over the course of of several months, Ove, with a little help from his friends, gets a new lease on life. Poignant and hysterically funny in equal measure, “A man called Ove” is a heartwarming novel of life, loss, and our intrinsic need to be needed. Skillfully written with charm and wit, this debut novel is a fast read – and one you will remember for a long time. You know you’ve read a good book when after the last page is turned you are already missing the characters… I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed “The storied life of A.J. Fikry” or “The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry“. “A man called Ove” came about as a result of a blog post from Swedish author Fredrik Backman. His readers took to the character and requested more and more. The result was this novel. Like Frederik Backman’s blog readers, this reader believes that the world would be a better place with more people like “A man called Ove“.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I would recommend this book to anyone who needs a laugh, or a reminder that our life matters in ways we would never imagine. It's a light read. This book helped me to see how much helping others in reality helps ourselves. Letting people into our life can bring happiness. It was written in a humorous way. It was easy to picture each character with the authors description. At first I felt the neighbors were intruders on Oves space and privacy but I loved how they became like family. I couldn't wait to read what would happen next in the life of Ove.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I was so sad when I finished this book because I wanted to keep on reading about this grumpy old man that snuck his way into my heart. You will laugh, you may cry, but overall you will be happy you read this book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have read hundreds of books and never left a comment or review until now. Read. This. Book. You won't be sorry.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Just as my headline states...Amazing read! I think we have all met and know someone just like Ove. Sure makes me appreciate that someone more and more! Loved this story!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Many memorable quotes.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I recommend this book for several reasons. It is very well written. Structure wise the book is balanced and you end where you begin--plot line. However, the character of Ove changes full circle within that structure. The humor in the book is really sincerely funny,but it serves the purpose of highlighting Ove's sadness. It is a book you can find meaning in even in the things that are not told to you. It is a wonderful book about love, acceptance and more importantly, finding out that living is the best way to celebrate a love one--after they are gone.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    We all seem too know someone like this and it warmed my heart from the very beginning. I highly reccomend this book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I absolutely fell in love with the characters in this story. They are each unique in their own way. But ove is a diamond in the rough so to say. He gives so much and asks nothing in return. As the saying goes, "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." A lot of people are very fortunate that his plans continue to fail.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very much enjoyed this book. Not your run of the mill story line. What a good guy! Kindness!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The best book that I've read in a long time.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is the best book I have read in a while. A grumpy crusty old man who terribly misses his deceased wife. He wants to join her in Heaven but earthly things keep getting in the way.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I haven't read a book that I've enjoyed as much as this one in a long time. You will laugh out loud as well as cry! I didn't want it to end. Fantastic !!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed every word of this book! Best story I've read recently, and I read constantly! I will be recommending this book to everyone and will be eagerly awaiting follow-up novels from this author.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This story is very well told and moves along quickly. The characters, who seem somewhat exaggerated at first, become quite real as the plot develops.
    Ziggle More than 1 year ago
    Ove was such a sweet-hearted man!  LOVED this book!