The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

By Jonas Jonasson

The Short Take:

This book is a pure delight through and through, right down to the last line of the final page. It has a Forrest Gump/Baron Munchausen vibe that is both highly entertaining and truly heart-warming. I had rather high hopes just from the title. They were greatly surpassed.


While not quite a fantasy, this novel is certainly fantastical. After all, not many ordinary men encounter Truman, Stalin, de Gaulle, Churchill, and a raft of other world leaders. However, these famed individuals have nothing on the colorful characters Jonasson created to accompany the 100-year-old-man of the title. From Albert Einstein’s unfortunate brother to an affable small-time crook, they are unique and highly enjoyable.

The book is awash in gentle humor, along with some sly commentary on world affairs and politics. Yet it’s not simple silliness by a long shot. It is also a celebration of living the life one is handed, a paean to the value of friendships, and a fractured history lesson on the last century.

Originally published in Sweden, this book has been a great success in Europe and deserves the same in the U.S. It’s about as far as you can get from the recently popular dark mysteries from that country. You could say it’s the perfect antidote.

A Little Plot:

The main story line traces what happens to the man who crawls out the window of a retirement home on his 100th birthday because he doesn’t like the way his life is going. That’s basically Allan Karlsson’s approach to life: if things need to change, change them; otherwise simply let it be.

His disappearance becomes a police matter, and the search gets increasingly complicated as other people disappear along Allan’s supposed trail.

These chapters are interspersed with the retelling of Allan’s life, which takes him around the world, introduces him to numerous world leaders, and involves a lot of explosions.

Yes, it is completely unbelievable. And, unbelievably fun to read.

For more about Jonas Jonasson and his book, click here.

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