I'll admit it: try as I may to be open-minded about the aging process, I am still a vain American who attempts to moisturize away wrinkles and scrupulously pluck every strand of gray hair. So I was intrigued when I heard about a novel that stars a spunky geriatric protagonist. For the past few years this debut novel from Swedish author Jonas Jonasson has been a European bestseller, and now it has finally been translated from Swedish and is available to English readers. Any seasoned reader will assume that this work is riding off the laurels of Stieg Larsson's Millennium
trilogy, but this novel offers an entirely different Sweden from the dark, crime-ridden one we have come to associate with Nordic novels.
The story opens on the 100th birthday of Allan Karlsson, an elder care resident with nerves of steel and a penchant for vodka. Allan refuses to be defined by his age...
Beyond the Book
While many of us assume that the key to a long life is health and happiness, recent studies from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine suggest that reaching the 100-year mark is a complex blend of genetics, environment, optimism, and emotional wellbeing. Given that recent U.S. census data shows that centenarians make up approximately 0.2 percent of the American population (and in Japan it's even higher, though not without some controversy), it's undeniable that centenarians are becoming only more numerous in countries that have long life expectancies.
Despite increasing longevity, many countries still formally honor a 100th birthday. In the U.K., centenarians receive a telegram from the Queen on a 100th and 105th birthday, as well as each one that follows. Americans receive...