Books with Bhavya #1: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Trigger warnings are at the end of this post.
I read about A Man Called Ove (written by Fredrik Backman, translated from the Swedish by Henning Koch) for the first time in 2019 and I was impressed by the premise and I,like any other reader, added it to a never ending TBR list.

I finally read it now because I have not read a lot this year and for some reason, desperately wanted to change that in the last two months of the year. I think the voice in my head will always poke me for not reading this book sooner.

I don’t dive into books with expectations. I simply don’t think about how I want a reading experience to turn out. But if there were any expectations from this book, it has undoubtedly exceeded all of them.

Set in Sweden, A Man Called Ove follows the story of Ove, a grumpy,cranky and taciturn curmudgeon. He is someone who makes inspections of his neighbourhood and argues with his neighbours.

He doesn’t like change. He is clear in his perception and has rigid rules and routines to follow until events lead up to him interacting with other people around him and his new neighbours, an Iranian woman who has moved in with her family.

Ove isn’t conventionally likeable, he is crotchety and cantankerous. But as the book progresses, something unexpected happens; Ove seems pleasant. I think as you read and find out what he has been through , you can’t really blame him for being grumpy. Well, I certainly can’t. And we later find out, he isn’t that grumpy after all.

Ove is 59 and has lost Sonja, his wife and probably the only person who understood him and saw him as he were.

“He was a man of black and white.
And she was colour. All the colour he had.”
-Chapter 5 of the book.

Backman is a master storyteller. The writing is simply brilliant. The words flow like water and this book made me experience a myriad of emotions within a few pages.

Sometimes you end up loving some books more than you want to!

I can’t help but marvel at how cleverly the book is constructed. The protagonist, Ove and the other characters and events around him, fit perfectly, like the pieces of a puzzle. I loved how beautifully the relationship as well as the characters of Ove and Sonja were written. If there was one character I wanted to know more about from this book, it would be Sonja.

The book covers a very sensitive feeling, loneliness. But it is written is an exceptional way, this book feels like a friend talking to you.
The book also touches upon LGBTQ issues and immigration but not once does it sound preachy. And hence the impact of this book is extraordinary. While I was reading this book, I felt like something shifted inside me.
I also figured that all of us are a little something like Ove. We can all find parts of him around us.

Of loss and of love. Of pain, grief and sorrow. Of kindness and friendship. Of happiness and of joy.
This book is of all those emotions at once.

I have seldom cried while reading books but as I turned the pages of this one. I couldn’t help but shed tears. And as I turned the last page of the book, I wanted to give Ove a big hug.

Read this book because it feels like sunshine on a winter morning and because Ove has the biggest heart, literally.

Some of my favourite excerpts from the book :

“All people at root are time optimists. We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”

“When time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be lived for. Memories, perhaps.”

“But sorrow is unreliable in that way. When people don’t share it there’s a good chance that it will drive them apart instead.”

“Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the great motivations for living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”

Trigger warnings : suicide planning and attempts.

3 responses to “Books with Bhavya #1: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman”

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