Excerpt from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman X
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2014, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2015, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Linda Hitchcock
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About this Book

Print Excerpt


"A McBook?" Ove says, far from convinced. "Is that one of those blessed 'eReaders' everyone's talking about?"

"No. A MacBook is a ... it's a ... laptop, with a keyboard."

"Okay!" Ove hisses. He looks around the shop for a moment.

"So are they any good, then?"

The sales assistant looks down at the counter in a way that seems to reveal a fiercely yet barely controlled desire to begin clawing his own face. Then he suddenly brightens, flashing an energetic smile.

"You know what? Let me see if my colleague has finished with his customer, so he can come and give you a demonstration."

Ove checks his watch and grudgingly agrees, reminding the assistant that some people have better things to do than stand around all day waiting. The assistant gives him a quick nod, then disappears and comes back after a few moments with a colleague. The colleague looks very happy, as people do when they have not been working for a sufficient stretch of time as sales assistants.

"Hi, how can I help you?"

Ove drills his police-flashlight finger into the counter.

"I want a computer!"

The colleague no longer looks quite as happy. He gives the first sales assistant an insinuating glance as if to say he'll pay him back for this.

In the meantime the first sales assistant mutters, "I can't take anymore, I'm going for lunch."

"Lunch," snorts Ove. "That's the only thing people care about nowadays."

"I'm sorry?" says the colleague and turns around.

"Lunch!" He sneers, then tosses the box onto the counter and swiftly walks out.

2
(THREE WEEKS EARLIER)
A MAN CALLED OVE MAKES HIS NEIGHBORHOOD INSPECTION

It was five to six in the morning when Ove and the cat met for the first time. The cat instantly disliked Ove exceedingly. The feeling was very much reciprocated.

Ove had, as usual, gotten up ten minutes earlier. He could not make head nor tail of people who overslept and blamed it on "the alarm clock not ringing." Ove had never owned an alarm clock in his entire life. He woke up at quarter to six and that was when he got up. Every morning for the almost four decades they had lived in this house, Ove had put on the coffee percolator, using exactly the same amount of coffee as on any other morning, and then drank a cup with his wife. One measure for each cup, and one extra for the pot—no more, no less. People didn't know how to do that anymore, brew some proper coffee. In the same way as nowadays nobody could write with a pen. Because now it was all computers and espresso machines. And where was the world going if people couldn't even write or brew a pot of coffee?

While his proper cup of coffee was brewing, he put on his navy blue trousers and jacket, stepped into his wooden clogs, and shoved his hands in his pockets in that particular way of a middle-aged man who expects the worthless world outside to disappoint him. Then he made his morning inspection of the street. The surrounding row houses lay in silence and darkness as he walked out the door, and there wasn't a soul in sight. Might have known, thought Ove. On this street no one took the trouble to get up any earlier than they had to. Nowadays, it was just self-employed people and other disreputable sorts living here.

The cat sat with a nonchalant expression in the middle of the footpath that ran between the houses. It had half a tail and only one ear. Patches of fur were missing here and there as if someone had pulled it out in handfuls. Not a very impressive feline.

Ove stomped forward. The cat stood up. Ove stopped. They stood there measuring up to each other for a few moments, like two potential troublemakers in a small-town bar. Ove considered throwing one of his clogs at it. The cat looked as if it regretted not bringing its own clogs to lob back.

Excerpted from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Copyright © 2014 by Fredrik Backman. Excerpted by permission of Atria Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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