During a book launch event for Anxious People hosted by Left Bank Books in St. Louis, author Fredrik Backman said something along the lines of: I’m not a good writer. I’m a good storyteller.
While Mr. Backman was certainly being modest, I understand the sentiment of his statement. His debut novel A Man Called Ove is a beautiful story about the complexities of life, love, and expectations told through simple, matter-of-fact language. The novel does not hide behind beautiful architectural sentences or splashy vocabulary. Instead, the story is told in a transparent, unassuming manner that mimics the bullish yet sincere directness of its title character. It’s this delivery method that cultivates the reader’s increasing fondness for the curmudgeonly Ove while weaving a tale that will make you both laugh and cry.
To understand Ove is to understand his interactions with others. Ove is of the sort whose ultimate expression of affection is not words of affirmation or even convivial teasing but rather begrudging tolerance. He believes that “right is right” and struggles to reconcile with those who do not understand his specific world view (read: everyone).
All in all, A Man Called Ove is an endearing story and quick read that will remind you of the extent to which friendship and kindness sustain us.