A Man Called Ove : Reading Update

A Man Called Ove : Reading Update

Reading Time: 2 minutes


Fredrik Backman‘s A Man Called Ove is a popular book nowadays. Or that is what I gather, looking at updates from fellow bibliophiles on various Facebook reading groups. It was made into a Swedish movie a couple of years back, while a Hollywood production with Tom Hanks in the eponymous role is being planned. Clearly, Ove is in the bibliophilic news.

I started reading “…Ove” a couple of nights ago, almost straight after finishing Isaac Asimov‘s Foundation’s Edge (FE). The contrast between the two books couldn’t be greater. “…Ove” is character driven, and the plot is the seasoning to what is, essentially, a socio-cultural and generational character study. The writing—or should I say the translation—is simple but does not lack cohesion or flow. Asimov, on the other hand, is pure plot, with zero focus—or ability to focus—on characters. So while FE satisfies my (somewhat diminishing) craving for science fictional futurism, “…Ove” is far more down to earth and more…human than FE.

And what an interesting human that is. Ove—does he even have a surname?—is a 59-yr old Swedish widower and recently retired man who personifies and defines the term curmudgeon. He is unfriendly to a degree that Trump seems like Ronald Weasley. He is asocial, he has ocd, and he is an inflexible person who believes that right is right, and the old ways were the best. Also, he spends every morning carrying out an inspection of his neighbourhood.

So, on first read, you wouldn’t like Ove. In fact, you might not like him even on your second or third reads. But you might, just might, come to appreciate him for who he is.

Disclaimer : I’m only a quarter of my way through the book. The opinions on the character and the book are, thus, entirely incomplete. Also, I have withheld a certain criticism I have concerning one of Ove’s—and his father’s—principles, a principle that ultimately led Ove down the path to Sonja, his wife.

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