Between The Pages – The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

With a title like that, how could I not pick this book up?

It isn’t your conventional book title.

For starters, it’s 13 words long. It’s more a sentence than a title. It’s amazing how they even managed to get the entire title on the spine.

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There’s none of the catchy wordplay or puns we often see in (and expect of) book titles. It is simple and unpretentious. And yet, it does its job. You read the title and you think (or at least, I thought), “Heh. Is this title a metaphor for something else?”. You pick it up and read the synopsis. You find out that no, it’s not a metaphor. It really is about a centenarian who climbs out of his window (of the Old Folks’ Home where he lived) and just – disappeared.

Well, he didn’t disappear as in – *poof* – vanish into thin air in a cloud of smoke.

He just walked. Without any clear destination, and seemingly without any reason.

And as any centenarian who’s ever escaped from an Old Folks’ Home would tell you, an adventure is inevitable when you climb out of a window and walk aimlessly.

And that is what this book is all about – the adventures of its 100-year-old protagonist, Allan Karlson, who escapes from an Old Folks’ Home on his 100th birthday, meets bizarre characters along the way, and sets off a manhunt involving the police and press.

As the adventure unfolds we begin to learn more about Allan the person, as the author deftly weaves in a parallel story depicting his earlier life. Beginning from his birth, his childhood and teenage years, and throughout his adult years, we discover how the unassuming Allan played a significant role in major political events in modern history.

The two stories – that of Allan’s adventure in the present day and that of the events that coloured his lifetime – converge towards the end of the book. This is where you realise three things:

Firstly, that Allan’s escape from the Old Folks’ Home wasn’t as random an act as you initially thought it to be;

Secondly, that having a centenarian as the hero of your story is an ingenious way of recounting modern political history; and

Thirdly, that every single one of us, at some point in our lives, for some reason or other, has felt like climbing out of the proverbial window and walking away from it all.

3 thoughts

  1. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! Jonas the son of Jonas. Was reading it during the holiday, by the beach, sipping mango smoothies haha. Picked it up because of the title too and I still can’t believe how good it was! The Zweeds not only can do furniture, they can write too haha.

      • Indeedy… you know he is writing another book right?

        Taken from wiki
        Jonasson is now working on his second novel. “It’s about a South African woman who lives in Soweto and turns the world upside down. It’s very funny.” He gave the working title as “The Analphabet Who Knew How to Count”

        How can you not want to read it? hahahah

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