Published May 19, 2013
Tags: Allan Karlsson, Book, Book Review, Charles de Gaulle, Harry Truman, Jonas Jonasson, Mao Tse Tung, Review, The Hundred-Year-Old Man, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Winston Churchill
This was a book which I picked up solely based on the title and without a doubt this is one of the most hilarious books I have ever read! The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is originally a Swedish novel authored by Jonas Jonasson and published in 2009 – I of course picked the English translation. I have never been a fan on translations till now, but now count me as a convert.
Allan Karlsson is no mood to attend his 100th birthday party and disappears from his old-age home. Along with him a suitcase full of money also disappears and so we meet a criminal gang, an elephant, a hot-dog vendor who has unlimited knowledge, an overzealous prosecutor, a foul-mouthed beauty, and many more intricately woven characters. And this is just the present. After all the protagonist is 100 years old, and has a lot to tell.
We revisit Allan Karlsson’s life and get a completely new perspective on the major events of the 20th century. While he is a completely apolitical person – he loses the conversation thread as soon as politics make an appearance – Allan has played a pivotal role in the world politics. He has a hand in rise of General Franco in Spain, Mao in China, and Charles de Gaulle in France. He has foiled an assassination attempt on Winston Churchill, he has sung songs with Stalin, and is indirectly responsible for the fall of the Soviet Empire. Oh and did I mention he made the atom bomb at Los Alamos while working on the Manhattan Project and later spilled the secret to Soviet Union over a bottle of Vodka.
Wish this book was a few hundred pages longer and wish I could take a 15 year vacation like Allan. Go pick this book today, you would not be disappointed.
P.S.: Posting a book review after a year!
As soon as I had read Chinaman – The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, in spite knowing that the book is a work of fiction, I googled for Pradeep Mathew. That is the power of the book. I knew that there is no such person, but the way the story has been weaved and the way it evolved it leaves you thinking, wondering “What if?” And the writer, Shehan Karunatilaka, has also taken care of all the details. He has created websites where you can find mention of this bowler, he has a few pages where the different balls bowled by this mystery bowler have been detailed, and there is an even fake Cricinfo profile. (I am too lazy to link to those articles, but a simple Google search should yield all these things)
Chinaman is the story of an aging Sri Lankan sports writer W. G. Karunsasena and his search for the best cricketer that Sri Lanka has produced, supposedly Murali learned his tricks from Pradeep Mathew, Ranatunga got his confidence to stand up to Australians from him, and our mystery cricketer is the one who gave wings to Sanath Jayasuriya’s aerial shots.
There are a few books which when you read you get lost in its world. The writer has such a grasp on you that you feel whatever is happening in the book is real, not fictional. For me it has always been a problem that I get too involved in a book, and here also I was so engrossed in the book that I would like to believe there is a guy named Pradeep Mathew and he is the best cricketer that Sri Lanka produced. The story follows Wije as he tries to find the cricketer who has vanished, and along with his search there are glimpses into the life of Sri Lanka.
If you have not read this book, pick it today. It is a compulsive read.
P.S.: Wrote this last year November, posting it in May