Published on November 22, 2012 | by Carleanna O'Donoghue


The Hundred year old man who disappeared

This international best seller is a hit [Helen Hasse]

Rating: ★★★★★

It is no surprise that this Swedish novel has become an international bestseller.

Just the title alone was enough to lure me into picking it up from a large pile of books in Waterstones. The book tells the story of an eponymous centenarian who climbs out of the window in his slippers, moments before his birthday party to embark on an adventure of accidental theft, plenty of booze, an elephant, criminal gangs and inadvertent murder.

Far more exciting than mingling with a bunch or geriatrics in an old people’s home, right?

Playing on the foibles of human-kind, the novel is an easy read. The sprightliness of Alan, the protagonist, is enough to make anybody want to grow disgracefully old the way he has done. Alan, perhaps being an older version of Forrest Gump, is constantly in the right place at the right time and makes a few friends on his geriatric crime spree.

The fast pace of the book keeps any reader occupied and dying to find out what madness the old fool will find himself involved in next. As far fetched as his adventures may seem, they’re entertaining and are guaranteed to make you giggle (can you imagine your Granddad embarking on a life of crime with a suitcase full of money?). If only all old peoples stories were exciting as this.

If you are a fan of history the book also tells the story of many events of the 20th Century that Alan has played a part in, including the Russian Revolution, two World Wars and the assassination of JFK. The book is as charming as the character of Alan himself. Anybody reading will find themselves wishing to be as care-free as he is when they get old.

The only thing is that because the book was translated from Swedish some of the language doesn’t quite flow in places but it is easy enough to keep an idea of what’s going on.

So apparently the key to happiness and fulfilment when you reach the end of your life is spontaneity, to drink a lot and to meet crazy people.  It’s official; he is my 100 year old hero.

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