21 reviews

A Man Called Ove: A Novel
by Fredrik Backman

Published: 2014-07-15
Hardcover : 352 pages
69 members reading this now
1338 clubs reading this now
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Recommended to book clubs by 20 of 21 members
Read the New York Times bestseller that has taken the world by storm!

In this â??charming debutâ? (People) from one of Swedenâ??s most successful authors, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

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Read the New York Times bestseller that has taken the world by storm!

In this â??charming debutâ? (People) from one of Swedenâ??s most successful authors, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. Heâ??s a curmudgeonâ??the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him â??the bitter neighbor from hell.â? But must Ove be bitter just because he doesnâ??t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Oveâ??s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residentsâ?? association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrewâ??s Last Stand, Fredrik Backmanâ??s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. â??If there was an award for â??Most Charming Book of the Year,â?? this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands downâ? (Booklist, starred review).

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Discussion Questions

1. How does the opening scene, in which Ove attempts to purchase a computer, succinctly express the main points of Ove’s ongoing battle with the stupidities of the modern world?

2. Ove loves things that have a purpose, that are useful. How does this worldview fail him when he believes himself to be useless? How is he convinced that he can still be useful?

3. As readers, we get to know Ove slowly, with his past only being revealed piece by piece. What surprised you about Ove’s past? Why do you think the author revealed Ove’s past the way that he did?

4. We all know our own grumpy old men. How do Ove’s core values lead him to appear as such a cranky old coot, when he is in fact nothing of the sort? Which of these values do you agree or disagree with?

5. Although Ove has some major “disagreements” with the way the world turned out, there are some undeniable advantages to the modernization he finds so hollow. How do these advantages improve Ove’s life, even if he can’t admit it?

6. Parveneh’s perspective on life, as radically different from Ove’s as it is, eventually succeeds in breaking Ove out of his shell, even if she can’t change his feelings about Saabs. How does her brash, extroverted attitude manage to somehow be both rude and helpful?

7. Ove strives to be “as little unlike his father as possible.” Although this emulation provides much of the strength that helps Ove persevere through a difficult life, it also has some disadvantages. What are some of the ways that Ove grows into a new way of thinking over the course of the book?

8. Ove is a believer in the value of routine—how can following a routine be both comforting and stultifying? How can we balance routine and spontaneity? Should we? Or is there sense in eating sausage and potatoes your whole life?

9. The truism “it takes a village to raise a child” has some resonance with A Man Called Ove. How does the eclectic cast of posers, suits, deadbeats, and teens each help Ove in their own way?

10. Although we all identify with Ove to some extent, especially by the end of the story, we certainly also have our differences with him. Which of the supporting cast (Parveneh, Jimmy, the Lanky One, Anita) did you find yourself identifying with most?

11. What did you make of Ove’s ongoing battle with the bureaucracies that persist in getting in his way? Is Ove’s true fight with the various ruling bodies, or are they stand-ins, scapegoats, for something else?

12. On page 113, after a younger Ove punches Tom, the author reflects: “A time like that comes for all men, when they choose what sort of men they want to be.” Do you agree with this sentiment, especially in this context? How does the book deal with varying ideas of masculinity?

13. On page 246, the author muses that when people don’t share sorrow, it can drive them apart. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

14. What do you think of Ove’s relationship with the mangy cat he adopts? What does the cat allow him to express that he couldn’t otherwise say?

15. On Ove and Sonja’s trip to Spain, Ove spends his time helping the locals and fixing things. How does Ove the “hero” compare and contrast to his behavior in the rest of the book? Is that Ove’s true personality?

16. Ove and Sonja’s love story is one of the most affecting, tender parts of the book. What is the key to their romance? Why do they fit so well together?

17. Saab? Volvo? BMW? Scania? - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/A-Man-Called-Ove/Fredrik-Backman/9781476738024/reading_group_guide#sthash.Enz84F3G.dpuf

Suggested by Members

Do you know someone that reminds you of Ove?
Which character do you identify with the most?
How does today's generation differ from Ove's generation?
by CarolNordstrom (see profile) 01/19/18

by SKLipp$ (see profile) 10/17/17

Do you have someone in your life like Ove? if so, how do you view that relationship?
One seemed to have some aspects of what is known today as Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Did you observe those traits? How did that shape his actions and how he responded to others?
by LSakay (see profile) 06/04/17

Was Ove like Sonjas father?
by [email protected] (see profile) 04/13/17

We had good discussion about the Oves in our lives.
by lyngeib (see profile) 04/12/17

What makes Ova the way he is?
What is the argument between Ova and Rune really about?
What does Sonja see in Ova others don't and why?
by mrblock (see profile) 04/11/17

Why does Sonja choose Ove? What is the attraction between the two?
by jessmiller99 (see profile) 04/10/17

Maybe have a question that discusses the Swedish culture versus ours?
by [email protected] (see profile) 03/19/17

We used the provided questions but soon found ourselves relating Ove's experiences with some of our own.
Swedish treats, of course, served for this one!
by petersos (see profile) 02/24/17

I am wondering how accurate the story is in regards to the
by KisaVal (see profile) 02/06/17

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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by Belinda L. (see profile) 03/17/23

Loved this book! A grumpy old man who thinks his life is over discovers it is not, thanks to a kaleidoscope of caring neighbors. The American version of the
movie, A Man Called Otto, star
... (read more)

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