You’re never too old for adventure or vodka. In this quirky shaggy dog story, hundred-year-old Allan Karlsson escapes his strict retirement home and goes on the run.
After climbing out of the window in urine-splattered slippers, he wants freedom – and a stiff drink.
Allan’s thrown into a series of absurd events, involving drug dealers, a friendly hot dog salesman and an elephant called Sonya. Soon, he’s wanted by the police.
The main character, like the author, is Swedish but we learn Allan rarely stayed at home. He spent his youth travelling the world in a series of wacky escapades.
In a fun but unbelievable twist, Allan reveals he met multiple world leaders and (accidently) changed the course of history.
Get ready to suspend your disbelief. This character can’t walk down the street without bumping into someone of mind-staggering importance. It’s a funny, Forrest Gump-style dash around major events of the twentieth century.
Allan’s thrown into the path of everyone from General Franco and Winston Churchill to Chairman Mao and President Truman. He befriends nuclear scientists, Albert Einstein’s less intelligent (fictional) brother and a petty thief called Julius.
Convoluted & comical
I wouldn’t say this is a laugh-out-loud novel (let me know if you disagree). It’s a jokey, sometimes dark, absurdist commentary on the last few decades’ most important happenings. It’s downright silly, but a fun read.
The main character takes life as it comes, whether he’s on the run, imprisoned or crossing the mountains on foot. Allan is politically uninterested and morally flexible. He travels between weapons of mass destruction and robbery in search of his next drink.
As the novel is long-ish (more than 380 pages) and convoluted, it wasn’t the best book to read while moving house. I picked it up and put it down in between shifting boxes, losing track of Allan’s meandering life – my fault for not concentrating hard enough!
And there’s more!
I also gave the sequel a go: The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man. It was an easy read but I’ll admit to finding book one funnier.
Allan reverses the habit of a lifetime. With help from his new black tablet, he develops a taste for politics. This doesn’t please his friend Julius, the thief-turned-asparagus-grower, who still shares his zany adventures.
The intrepid pair end up in a hot-air-balloon mishap and that brings them into contact with even more world leaders.
There’s a big focus on current events, including the character’s (and probably the author’s!) opinion of Donald Trump, Angela Merkle and Vladimir Putin. In fact, book two reminded me of a time capsule. Bury it for a few years and when you come back you’ll have a good snapshot of the way things were.
Verdict: These are stories that keep going… and going. Expect an amusing, interesting read with a rambling plot. Good for people who like their politics served with humour.