Book Talk: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared
This month, our host Paul Gallagher speaks to blogger Nicola Balkind and SBT's Head of Reader Development, Philippa Cochrane, to discuss Jonas Jonasson's bestselling novel, The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.
The book, which details the adventures of a man who escapes from the clutches of an old people’s home the night before his 100th birthday, goes backwards and forwards in time, linking its protagonist, Alan Karlsson, to a series of unlikely historical events. The book has divided audiences and is being both lauded and panned for its dark humour.
During the podcast, Paul, Philippa and Nicola all touch on how creating a narrative around large historical events has a function, but what could that function be?
Phillipa had the following to say:
There is an awful lot of this book that’s about trying to put distance between events and the choices of the people who cause those events to happen.
It’s being done to make the book lighter so you can read it on a surface level, but I think it's also about commenting on Alan’s whole approach to life; ‘things are what they are – whatever will be will be’.
I can’t make up my mind whether this is just the style of the novel and we should take things at face value because, as they say, ‘things are what they are’ or whether by asking us to do that, with events like the creation of the atomic bomb, the author is trying to hold it up and say ‘Look, you can construct a narrative about all of this, and I am constructing a ridiculous narrative to suggest how all of these things happened..[but really]...he is flagging up how ridiculous it is that human beings do these things to one another.