The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window
Hesperus Press, 2009
Translated by Rod Bradbury, 2012
ISBN: 978 1 84391 372 6
When I first spotted this book on a shelf in shop in London, I was naturally taken by the odd title; and jolly glad I am that I took it to the checkout and gave myself an opportunity to enjoy one of the funniest books I have read for years. The story takes us all over the world at such a fast pace, and it will help if you follow this simple piece of advice. Suspend your disbelief, sit down with a large coffee and an even larger bar of chocolate and prepare yourself for an international tale of intrigue and comedy.
When Allen decides on his last adventure, events begin to happen around him and to him, rather than him creating the story. As the story goes on, similar events will cause a domino effect on him, his new found friends, as well as his even newer enemies. He leaves a trail behind him that drives the story on to magical effect. Totally believable, yet completely unbelievable. Logical and yet totally illogical; surprising and not in the least surprising. And all told in a totally absurd way.
A mix of looking back on Allen’s life and the day to day events that carry him forward, we discover that he has met some remarkable people, during some historical times. Without giving the plot away, you will discover Allen’s role during the war, with explosives, though to his exploits during the cold war, with all the politics that complicated the Western world. Taking in his spying role, and his promotion of politics in Bali, then it becomes clear that he did live a full life. Being a hundred years old seems not to change anything; dull does not figure in his dictionary.
This current difficulties do include a couple of murders (or not, or maybe), grand theft (or not, or maybe) and an episode, in the middle of Sweden with Sonya the elephant. Then of course the international flight for the elephant to...no, that is beginning to give away the plot line, which I promise, will spoil it for you.
All the characters are believable, some indeed, are famous. All have their own story, and if you have a grandparent or parent alive, it is possible that you will relate to Allen, and hopefully smile. Whatever, or whoever you relate to, it will allow you to go ‘ah, that explains why the world id like it is’. If only these incidents were true.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough; it may never win literary prizes as a classic novel, but it will certainly live in my memory for a long time to come. So, go on, if you want to smile, give this one a go.
For my blog about the Booker Prize Shortlist then go to: