Book Review: “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”

“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson is about as quirky as the title suggests. The title may be a bit long, and perhaps a bit strange, but the book itself is definitely worth the read. It was originally published in Sweden in 2009. It was translated from Swedish to English and released in the United States in September of 2012. The plot follows the past and present of the very interesting, vodka loving, explosives expert Allan Karlsson. Allan Karlsson has lived life to the fullest, there is no doubt about that. This centenarian is mischievous and quirky in more than a couple of ways. In case he is not interesting enough, he is met along the way with character who are just as eccentric as he is.

Allan Karlsson believes he has made his final stop when he ends up in a nursing home. However, the nurse is always on his case and he wants to drink a little bit more vodka than the standard nursing home allows. On the day of his one hundredth birthday party, a very big deal for the nursing home that also involves the press, he decides that he has had enough and climbs out the window in his slippers to embark on his newest journey. The centenarian ends up stealing a suitcase at a bus stop, which results in quite the series of events involving a couple of criminals, quite a large amount of cash, and an elephant named Sonya.
The story happening in present time is interwoven with the centenarian’s backstory. Allan Karlsson has participated in a large amount of twentieth century history and travelled around the world. He has met famous and important people from Stalin and Churchill to Mao and Truman. Becoming interested in munitions as a boy, he is also a bit of an explosives expert, and explosives are almost as important to him as his vodka. Karlsson participated in some of the biggest explosions of the century.
Jonas Jonasson brings his characters to life and his writing entrances the reader. “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” involves its fair share of history and it is well-researched and, on top of that, well-written. It is a book where it is obvious that the author was enjoying what he was writing. That shines through on the page and make the story itself fun to read. Jonasson navigates his way through the past one hundred years of history with style.
With a couple of characters that are larger than life, “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” is a book that is worth the read. As an added bonus, it is also spotted with humor and reading it could probably put a smile on anybody’s face. It is the kind of book that is downright enjoyable with characters who are zany enough to keep the story rolling. Allan Karlsson has lived life to the fullest and at one hundred years of age he is still going strong. His tale inspires one to reach out and seize life and live a bit on the crazy side.

Erica Dettmer-Radtke is a senior at Mines. She is editor in chief of The Oredigger. Erica is a Statistics major and came to Mines from Boulder, CO. In her spare time, while not studying or working on the paper, she enjoys being outside, reading, photography, and cooking.

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