I had casually noticed books by Fredrik Backman in my bookshop many times over the past year or two, but had never thought to actually take the time to read one until recently. I’ve now read two of his novels — A Man Call Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here — and now I’m hooked. So much so, that I just bought two more books and have another two on my “to buy” list. I think he’s that good.
No doubt the high-brow literary pundits will scoff at the appeal of Backman’s feel-good novels but for readers like me — and apparently his fans now number in the millions around the world — these books are simply magical.
So, what’s the appeal? “Magical” is an overused adjective, but it really does succinctly sum up the power of these novels. Take an unlikely elderly protagonist, surround him or her with an equally unlikely cast of misfits, and the results are both comical and compelling.
It would take an arsenal of adjectives to properly describe Backman’s style, but the books are alternately funny and sad, delightful and thought-provoking, profoundly deep and easy to read. Basically, they are inspirational and life-affirming stories, the sort of book that will make you think differently about other people, not to mention yourself. I alternated between laughter and tears while reading the first two books, not ashamed to admit that I had to wipe my eyes many times after profusely shedding tears.
This is not my typical literary diet of crime fiction or travel tales, but something far more moving and soul-searching. And at this point in my life I need that. I’m ready for the next one.