Book Review

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Title: A Man Called Ove (En man som heter Ove)

Author: Fredrik Backman

Publisher (English): Washington Square Press, US

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

First Publication: The novel was first published in Sweden in 2012. The English translation was published in 2013.

Language: English

Setting Place: Sweden

Protagonist: Ove

Major Characters: Ove, Parvaneh, Sonja, Rune, Adrian, Nasanin, Mirsad, Jimmy

Theme: Memory and Grief, Love, Family, Principles, Loyalty

Narration: Third Person Limited Point of view.


Book Summary : A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a story of a grumpy old man who points at people he dislikes as if they are burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has steadfast principles, uncompromising routines and a short fuse. He doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time. People call him the harsh and bitter neighbor from the hell. Behind this cranky exterior of Ove, there is a story and sadness. This grumpy but loveable man, Ove’s solitary world turned upside down when a young family moves in his neighborhood.

One November morning a talkative young couple with their two talkative daughters move in next door. They accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox when husband was trying to reverse trailer car. This leads in to a comical and heartwarming tale of Ove and his life.

Ove drives a Saab and he criticize the people driving popular Japanese models. He takes it upon himself to inspect the goings-on of his neighborhood. Every morning he walks around the street locking up misplaced bicycles and tearing down flyers. He hates all the “thirty-one-year olds” that have moved into his neighborhood, driving up property costs.


Character List: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ove: The 59-year-old protagonist of the novel. He lost his mother when he’s 8 and his father at the age of 16. Ove believes that men should do things—not just talk about them. He distrusts the internet and people who work from home.

Sonja: Ove’s late wife, who dies six months before the start of the novel. Sonja was very beautiful and she loved colors, chaos, and the humanities.

Parvaneh: An Iranian woman moves in across the street with her husband Patrick and her two children, Nasanin and the seven-year-old.

Patrick: Parvaneh’s husband and an IT consultant. Ove refers to Patrick as The Lanky One.

Jimmy: A young overweight man who lives in the house between Ove and Rune. He lived there with his mother until her death, which occurred a few years before the start of the novel.

Anders: He lives across the street and drives an Audi. He owns a towing company. He dates a woman that Ove refers to as the Blond Weed.

Blond Weed: She is Anders’ girlfriend. Ove never learns her name. He refers her as Blond Weed because she’s blond, tall, and wears very tall high heels.

Rune: Rune and Ove, with their wives, moved into the neighborhood on the same day. Anita and Sonja became friends so Rune and Ove became friends to appease their wives.

Anita: Rune’s wife and lives two houses down from Ove. Ove describes her as tiny and ashy. He thinks she’s certainly not up to the task of caring for her husband by herself.


Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman opens with the following characterizations about Ove: “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 torch.” The story moves back and forth between Ove’s childhood and his present life as a fifty-nine-year-old man living alone Sweden.

Book takes its time to reveal that this dyed-in-the-wool curmudgeon has the heart of gold. You’ll see the basic set up coming, but author does a crafty job in revealing it chapter by chapter. Ove’s past trickles out in alternating chapters. You’ll learn in chapters how an honorable and hardworking boy turned into a grumpy-natured old man.

“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”

When Ove was eight, his mother died, so he began to work at the railway with his father. Ove was 16 when his father died and left him with his house and the Saab. After that Ove quits school to take his father’s job at railway. It’s Sonja who turns his life around the first time. Sweet and lively Sonja marries Ove and balances his pessimism with optimism and warmth.

By the age of 59, he’s yet again in a place of despair. It’s a woman who turns him around second time. Parvaneh, an Iranian pregnant woman, who moved into the house next door with her husband and two children. She forces Ove to engage with the world. The back-story chapters have simple and fable-like quality while the current-day chapters episodic and hysterically funny.

“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.”

The chapters mostly alternate between current day and giving us some insight into Ove’s past, a past which is full of heartache, but there’s also some happy times. The parts where it discusses Ove and his wife, Sonja, were my favourites – some of those passages are simply perfection! I was reading over some before writing my review and I was almost tearing up again.

The life changing books are those that can make you laugh and cry in equal measure, and this one really delivered on both fronts. A Man Called Ove is a really heartwarming and touching story about community and finding your purpose, whilst touching on themes like grief and moving on.


About Author:

A man Called Ove is Swedish author Fredrik Backman’s debut novel. Many publishing companies had rejected the manuscript of this book before it was published. The book was translated into English and published in the US in 2013. The Novel has become commercially successful since then. It has been translated in 38 languages and sold more than a million copies. Backman has authored several other books including My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry , and Britt-Marie Was Here. A Man Called Ove was adapted into a stage play and also a movie in 2015.


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