A Man Called Ove

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A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Published: 2012
Narrated by: George Newbern
Translated By: Henning Koch (from Swedish in 2013)
Length: 09:09 (368 pages)

Ove is a fifty-nine-year-old grump. He’s stubborn, angry, rude, a stickler for the rules, and someone who can become infuriated by the simplest of things. In some ways, I can related to Ove a little too well, so I found his cynical inner dialogue to be hilarious right through the novel.

Through flashbacks, we learn his life story and slowly start to understand why he is the way he is. It begins with him meeting his new neighbours and immediately hating them, but as the story progresses he begrudgingly spends more and more time with them. He is a wonderful character, but the other characters in the novel, particularly the wife of the new neighbours, are great as well.

The plot of the story is fairly predictable, the few surprises will be annoyingly ruined if you’ve seen the trailer for the 2015 movie (which I haven’t watched yet), but I was enjoying Ove’s story enough to still fly through the novel. It’s covers some pretty heavy stuff around trying to deal with loss and grief, but it’s also very funny, so it never really gets bogged down with that. I think he managed to strike a good balance between the heartfelt moments and the funny moments, where it felt comedic but didn’t feel like it was trying to strong arm emotions in there as well.

This was Fredrik Backman’s first novel, and he’s gone on to publish a few more. I haven’t heard anything about them, but I’ll keep an eye out.

5 thoughts on “A Man Called Ove

  1. Geoff W

    I don’t recognize the title, but it sounds like a couple of movies that come to mind (of course I can’t remember ANY of the actors, maybe Clint Eastwood or Bill Murray?).

      1. Geoff W

        Ahhhh. I also saw someone carrying this on the train this morning AND I just requested an ARC of a book that uses this as a comparison, it’s everywhere today!

  2. Ruthiella

    I may check this (or one of his many other titles – they seem to be everywhere lately) out from the library and give it the 50 page rule because you are not the only on-line person I follow who has enjoyed it. But I really think I would hate it…I kind of hate heartwarming and it sounds like it is so intentionally so. However, I won’t know till I try it myself!

    1. Rob Post author

      It does definitely fall into that category, but it doesn’t completely hit you over the head with it for the most part. The cynical grump scenes to heartwarming scenes was an acceptable ratio for me.

      A 50 page rule is a very smart idea, though.


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