Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Love, Friendship

‘He was a man of black and white. And she was colour. All the colour he had.’

Ove cocoons out from a very interesting life. It could be one of the reasons that turns him into a very systematic man; for there exists either the right way or the wrong way to get through things for Ove, no dingy sideways. Being a man of principles in turn, Ove despises people who do not know the right way to do things. Especially people who don’t know how to reverse their trailers without hitting their neighbour’s mailboxes. Now what exactly happened to the guy who once fell in love and let its sunshine fill up his entire world? Only succeeding pages will tell.

‘Either they walk fast or they run slowly, that’s what joggers do. It’s a forty-year-old man’s way of telling the world that he can’t do anything right.’

Ove, who pretty much looks as if he invented the word ‘grumpy’, has a very large appetite for throwing tantrums. When ‘grumpy’ gets a buoyant pregnant woman and her family as his neighbours, things start to change.

‘You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away.’

Change is the only thing constant for the world but for Ove, the only thing that has been constant are the daily interruptions from people in his neighbourhood who don’t even know that there’s a separate plug for a concrete wall; or how to fix things like a radiator. Well, that’s pretty much all of us. And yet somehow, Ove can make you laugh and cry and can help you find a way to love life with its own toolbox of the strange things that we call friendships.

‘Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.’

With an exhilarating pace and a warm humour, A Man Called Ove is not unlike your regular debut novels. Its one of those novels that makes you feel like home, especially when there are so many people that the novel introduces you to – there’s an untamed cat, a three-year-old girl obsessed with crayons, men in white shirts with data calculations on their face, an old friendship thriving out of interest in cars, a relationship born out of a driving lesson and more. It shows you around a charming string of events in a world full of mismatched bonds and makes its own place in your heart. A really good read for people who cannot get through the heavy descriptions of why and how ‘the curtains were blue’.

This is a red flag for you to stop doing whatever you are doing right now and get your hands on this one. Otherwise, I don’t mind agreeing with Ove here-

‘In return, Ove looks at the creature before him as if it were nothing but a waste of oxygen.’


1. While his proper cup of coffee was brewing, he put on his navy blue trousers and jacket, stepped into his wooden clogs and shoved his hands in his pockets in that particular way of a middle-aged man who expects the worthless world outside to disappoint him.

2. Ove feels an instinctive scepticism towards all people taller than one eighty-five; the blood can’t quite make it all the way up to the brain.

3. They never had much, but they always had enough.

4. You miss the strangest things when you lose someone.

5. Maybe to her destiny was ‘something’, that was none of his business. But to him, destiny was ‘someone’.

6. This was a world where one became outdated before one’s time was up.

7. After carefully weighing up the pros and cons, he’s accepted that what he’s doing today has to be the best of bad alternatives.

8. But when he saw her it was as if something malfunctioned.

9. I just wanted to know what it felt like to be someone you look at.

10. All people want to live dignified lives, dignity just means something different to different people.

11. But we are always optimists when it comes to time, we think there will be time to do things with other people.

12. Loving someone is like moving into a house.

13. One of the most painful memories in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead.

14. One finds a way of living for the sake of someone else’s future.

15. Love is a strange thing. It takes you by surprise.