Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of the Old Folks’ Home to avoid his 100th birthday party. What happens next is funny and you would expect that to be what the book is about. It turns out that what happened before that day, over Allan’s life, is even funnier.
He climbs out of the window, in his slippers, and heads to the bus station, not caring where he will go. While waiting for the next bus without much thought about it he steals a suitcase and gets on the bus. It did occur to him that the suitcase might have some shoes in it. The suitcase’s owner is a criminal and he is very upset and works hard trying to get it back.
The story goes back and forth between the current chase and events from his prior very full life.
I must admit that for me Allan Karlsson seemed to be Alan Alda. Not just because they are both named Alan but they shared a comic aloofness.
I kept seeing and even hearing Alda as I read about Karlsson. I won’t say any more and maybe it is unfair to mention this because you may now fall into the same trap if you read this book
Karlsson was an explosive expert throughout much of his life. This skill enabled him to get the attention of many world leaders including Franco, Truman, Stalin, Mao and Kim Il Sung. He has no personal political leanings but worked for all sides inadvertently. His travels take him all over the world as he intersects with world events from Los Alamos, New Mexico to North Korea.
The book is silly. The events and coincidences are absurd. It weaves history in to a fictional life in a masterful way. The story will hold the readers interest from beginning to end. A rare accomplishment for any book. A great cure for the blues, especially for anyone who might feel bad about growing older.