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“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” by the Swedish journalist and author Jonas Jonasson is a clever way to re-examine the political upheavals of the last century.
The main character is Allan Karlsson, who has had a long and interesting life but now is confined to an old people’s home in Sweden. Life there is boring, and worse yet, alcohol is prohibited. So on his 100th birthday Allan climbs out the window on the path to adventure.
Leaving on the spur of the moment without his hat and wearing his brown slippers, he heads to the bus station to get on the very next bus out of town. To Allan, the destination is unimportant.
As he sits down he spies a young man with “greasy blond hair, a scraggly beard, and a jean jacket with the words ‘Never Again’ on the back.”
The young man, impressed with Allan’s politeness and charm, asks him to keep an eye on his suitcase while he visits the men’s room. After the young man departs a bus pulls up.
With the same impulse that has driven him to climb out the window, he picks up the suitcase and gets onto the bus. He had not particularly warmed to the young man, and there just might be a pair of shoes in that suitcase.
When Allan finally does open the suitcase he discovers it is “stuffed with bundles of 500-crown notes.” This means, he finds out, that now he is on the run
Allan joins up with some wonderful and eccentric characters on his adventure. The police and the newspapers track him, though sometimes there is a lull.
“As the weeks passed the journalists found it harder to keep the story alive.” The TV and national newspapers quit reporting, but the “Swedish tabloids held out longer. If you had nothing to say, you could always interview somebody who didn’t realize they had nothing to say.”
The way the author connects Allan with some famous people as Harry Truman and Josef Stalin makes for a fine read if one is interested in reliving historical events through the life of an old man and his adventures in history.