The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared
By Jonas Jonassen
Length: 12 hours
Release Date: 9/11/12
Publisher: AudioGo Ltd
Allan Karlsson, resident of a nursing home in a small Swedish town, is about to be celebrated at his 100th birthday party with the press, the mayor, and the entire nursing staff and fellow residents in attendance. But Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his alcohol consumption), so he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his "pee slippers" and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey. At the same time we discover Allan's larger-than-life back story: not only has he witnessed, Zelig-like, some of the most important events of the twentieth century but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting as an explosives expert, he finds himself involved in the development of the atomic bomb and in his travels throughout the world, shares meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman, to Mao, Franco, and De Gaulle.
The title of this audiobook caught my attention right away and Allan Karlsson’s adventures and past life kept me interested to the very last page. Allan, a laid back soul who usually accepts his circumstances until he decides to change them, climbs out of the nursing home to escape a situation where he had no control of his life. For one thing, Director Alice could find his vodka wherever he hid it.
Allan’s story winds its way through his adventures beginning on his 100th birthday, May 2, 2005 and is intermixed with his past. After escaping the nursing home, Allan accidently steals a huge suitcase filled with money. He is chased by thugs who want it back but he shares the loot with friends he makes along the way. Allan, an optimistic and resourceful soul, makes the best of every situation and quickly sees what must be done. For instance, he manages to use an elephant for self-defense against a thug with a gun.
Allan was forced to quit school when he was 10 and go to work in a nitro glycerin factory. He went on to become an explosives expert. His knowledge of explosives was valuable to world leaders and led him to help create the atom bomb for the US and inadvertently share the knowledge with Stalin. Allan ended up in a prison camp in Siberia where he made friends with Herbert Einstein, fictional half-brother of Albert Einstein. Herbert Einstein was my second favorite character, Allan being my most favorite. Einstein was so dim witted that even after five years in the prison camp he couldn’t find his way around. Allan got tired of not being able to get vodka and decided to escape with the help of Einstein. Their actions set not only the prison camp but the whole surrounding city on fire, but they did get away.
The cast of quirky characters and implausible events kept me interested to the end but what I liked most was the voice and performance of the narrator, Steven Crossley. I had never heard him perform before but I was not surprised to find that I was listening to an award winning narrator. The book was filled with repetitions and indirect speech that, I’m sure, was much better in Crossley’s voice than it would be on the printed page. I have added him to my list of favorite narrators.
This is Jonas Jonasson’s first book and the most sold novel in Sweden in 2010. It was translated to English by Rod Bradbury.
Review copy provided by AudioGo.