Summary and book reviews of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

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

Book Summary

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door. Winner of the 2014 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award.

Winner of the 2014 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon - the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him "the bitter neighbor from hell." But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn't walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Fredrik Backman's novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

BookBrowse note: In Swedish Ove is pronounced (approximately) Oover.

1
A MAN CALLED OVE BUYS A COMPUTER THAT IS NOT A COMPUTER

Ove is fifty-nine.

He drives a Saab. He's the kind of man who points at people he doesn't like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman's flashlight. He stands at the counter of a shop where owners of Japanese cars come to purchase white cables. Ove eyes the sales assistant for a long time before shaking a mediumsized white box at him.

"So this is one of those O-Pads, is it?" he demands.

The assistant, a young man with a single-digit body mass index, looks ill at ease. He visibly struggles to control his urge to snatch the box out of Ove's hands.

"Yes, exactly. An iPad. Do you think you could stop shaking it like that . . . ?"

Ove gives the box a skeptical glance, as if it's a highly dubious sort of box, a box that rides a scooter and wears tracksuit pants and just called Ove "my friend" before offering to sell him a watch.

"I see. So it's a computer, yes?"

The sales ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How does the opening scene, in which Ove attempts to purchase a computer, succinctly express the main points of Ove's ongoing battle with the stupidities of the modern world?

  2. Ove loves things that have a purpose, that are useful. How does this worldview fail him when he believes himself to be useless? How is he convinced that he can still be useful?

  3. As readers, we get to know Ove slowly, with his past only being revealed piece by piece. What surprised you about Ove's past? Why do you think the author revealed Ove's past the way that he did?

  4. We all know our own grumpy old men. How do Ove's core values lead him to appear as such a cranky old coot, when he is in fact nothing of the sort? Which of these values do you ...
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    BookBrowse Awards
    2014

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

A Man Called Ove is a perfect selection for book clubs. It's well written and replete with universal concerns. It lacks violence and profanity, is life-affirming and relationship-driven. The book is bittersweet, tender, often wickedly humorous and almost certain to elicit tears.   (Reviewed by Linda Hitchcock).

Full Review (496 words).

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Media Reviews

Cayacosta Reviews

One of the most moving novels I have read this year. I defy anyone to read this book and look at a quiet withdrawn person the same way ever again.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The debut novel from journalist Backman is a fuzzy crowd-pleaser that serves up laughs to accompany a thoughtful reflection on loss and love. Though Ove's antics occasionally feel repetitive, the author writes with winning charm.

Booklist

Starred Review. Readers seeking feel-good tales with a message will rave about the rantings of this solitary old man with a singular outlook. If there was an award for 'Most Charming Book of the Year,' this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down.

Kirkus Reviews

This charming debut novel by Backman should find a ready audience with English-language readers… hysterically funny… wry descriptions, excellent pacing… In the contest of Most Winning Combination, it would be hard to beat grumpy Ove and his hidden, generous heart.

Author Blurb Lois Leveen, author of Juliet's Nurse and The Secrets of Mary Bowser
There are characters who amuse us, and stories that touch us. But this character and his story do even more: A Man Called Ove makes us think about who we are and how we want to live our lives.

Reader Reviews

Mar

Very Moving
There were many funny moments in this book, but I would hardly call it comedic. There were many tearful moments for me as I read this. Wonderful book. One of the best I've read in ages.

Beckyh

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman
To say Ove was set in his ways would be a gross understatement. But Ove’s wife loved him and he loved her. Life was good until tragedy struck – twice. Now Ove is alone and wishes to kill himself, but life intervenes in the guise of neighbors, friends...   Read More

Ruth Fiscer

Few writers today can compare to his talent
He introduces his characters a little at a time and doesn' t spoil their quirks by giving too much information about them too quickly. One of my favorite books in a long time!

Lynn Morneau

Delightful
Ove is a loveable, unforgettable character. His grumpiness is hysterically funny and barely masks his capacity to love selfishlessly. I could not put this book down and was terribly sad when it was finished.

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Beyond the Book

A Brief History of Saab Cars

A Man Called Ove inexorably links the man and his cherished Saab. Ove's first vehicle, inherited from his father at age 16, was a restored green 1949 Saab '92, a two-door coupe, the distinctive Swedish automobile manufacturer's first production car. Ove's devotion and brand loyalty to the company's Swedish roots is so steadfast that he ceases purchasing new cars after the General Motors acquisition, choosing instead to retain his dark blue 1998 Saab 9.5 Estate model.

IOne can argue that a Saab is not a car, but a wingless, non-flying airplane. The Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (Swedish Airplane Corporation) factory was built in 1938 to provide equipment for the Royal Swedish Air Force. Throughout World War II, the company manufactured ...

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