A Man Called Ove

All posts tagged A Man Called Ove

Author Interview – Fredrik Backman on his novel My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises

Published June 13, 2016 by bibliobeth

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FREDRIK BACKMAN – A BIOGRAPHY

Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the bestselling author of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and A Man Called Ove. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and are being published around the world in more than thirty-five languages.

Click on the books to get to the link to GoodReads!

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For my review of A Man Called Ove which I talked about with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads, please click HERE.

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For my review of My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises, please click HERE. Please note, this book has also been published as My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry.

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Britt-Marie Was Here is Fredrik’s new novel, published on May 3rd 2016 by Atria Books which features one of the wonderful characters from My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises.

INTERVIEW WITH FREDRIK BACKMAN

I’d like to welcome Fredrik to bibliobeth today and thank him very much for his time in giving this interview.

1.) Both your debut novel, A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises feature complex characters with hidden depths. Which character have you most enjoyed writing (past or future novels) and why?

I think I’m always most fond of the character I’m writing at the moment. I think it has to be that way, maybe not unlike a relationship, you have to be in love with the person you’re with right NOW. You can still be friends with the old characters, but you have to invest your time and your attention to the one you’re with right here. To be honest I think my feelings about the characters go as far as me almost forgetting things about the characters in my old books, since I’m too invested in the present. People sometimes asks me detail questions about an older book and I have to answer “I don’t remember, I have to re-read what I wrote”. That’s not to say I don’t care about the old characters, I really, really do, but the present characters consumes all of me. My thoughts and my feelings and my memories and my plans. My experience is that whenever I write a book like that, giving it absolutely all I’ve got, then the characters become real people to me. I consider them actual human beings, so I begin to view and react to my old books more as documentaries. As if I did an interview with an actual person, wrote a book about it, and afterwards that person continued their life and went on to other things and had an existence without me. Does that make sense?

2.) When the story begins, Elsa has two superheroes in her life – her grandmother and Harry Potter, although she may gather a few more along the way! Who were your superheroes when you were younger, literary or otherwise?

I liked sports. That was my biggest pretend universe. I find sports to be the same kind of escapism as literature or movies of comics: You step into a place where everything is made up but we pretend it’s real. We pretend it matters. We invest real feelings into it. And the second we decide we don’t want to, it all falls apart. Star Wars and Lord of the Rings would be nothing without an audience, and football is the same thing. It’s all pretend, and deep down we know, but we NEED that as human beings. When talking about that psychological model “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”, where human needs such as “food/housing/friendship” and so on are listed in a pyramid, I always find it odd that “imagination” is never listed. Everyone I’ve ever met has something going on in their head that is all made up, and is absolutely vital to them. It can be movies or books or sports or music or whatever. I don’t know if that answers your question. But if not, I answer “Astrid Lindgren”. She’s my absolute favourite writer. If you don’t love her you and me have nothing in common in life at all.

3. One of my favourite characters in the novel is the brave and biscuit-obsessed “wurse.”I’ve already got a mental image of him in my head but please satisfy my curiosity and tell me what breed of dog he most resembles to you? (If he were a dog of course and not a wurse!)

Well, he’s a wurse. They look they way they look. Like a wurse. It’s like asking “what does a horse look like?” It’s not a thin rhino or a very big monkey or a hairy snake. It’s just a…horse.

And I really wanted to write it the way so that every reader can cast it themselves. I wanted to force people to use their imagination. Which of course backfired, because now I’ve, true story, have had more than thirty different email discussions with people from at least six different counties who’s written me to tell me “DOGS CAN’T EAT CHOCOLATE THEY WILL DIE!!!”. And I answer “well it’s not a dog”. And they reply “DOGS CAN’T EAT CHOCOLATE YOU MORON!!!”. And I answer “well it’s a wurse, not a dog”. And they reply “YOU KNOW NOTHING OF DOGS THEY ARE ALLERG…”. And I answer “IT’S NOT A BLOODY DOG!!! IT’S A BLOODY WURSE!!!”.

4.) Elsa’s grandmother is responsible for the most terrific fairy-tales and the creation of many kingdoms. Do fairy-tales still hold a special place in your heart as an adult?

I think any adult who doesn’t hold a special place for fairy-tales needs to get help.

5.) Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’m writing a book to be published in Sweden this autumn. It’s a lot more serious than my precious ones, according to ones who’ve read it. Less jokes, more story, and perhaps a bit darker. It’s different. So maybe everyone will hate it, I don’t know. But it’s what I wanted to write right now and I thought I have to take the chance now that the publishers actually WANT to publish my books. Because that will all change as soon as they figure out I don’t really know what I’m doing here.

And now for some quick fire questions!

E book or real book?

I don’t care. I read a lot of printed books, I read a lot of others on my phone. I have two kids, I don’t have the luxury of choosing HOW to read. If I get to read I read anything. And “real” book? What does that even mean? “You do book or you do not do book. There is no try.”, as Yoda might have put it.

Series or stand alone?

I’ve always viewed series as just a REALLY long stand alone. Divided into smaller chunks. So…both?

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction. Easy. There’s quite enough reality in reality.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Bookshop trawling.

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Dog-earing.

Once again, a HUGE thank you to Fredrik Backman for giving up his time to do this interview and for his frank and very funny answers. My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises was published on June 16th 2015 by Atria Books and is available to buy from all good book retailers now! I’m very much looking forward to reading his next novel, Britt-Marie Was Here so look out for a review of it on bibliobeth very soon.

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Talking About A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman with Chrissi Reads

Published July 16, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, 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 the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’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 Ove’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 residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fryand Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: The emotional strength of the novel hangs on our view of Ove. Discuss how the author draws the character.

BETH: I definitely agree about the emotional strength hanging on how we view the character. Ove is both our main character and narrator with not too many additional characters on the sidelines to hide behind. I think the author was very clever in how he created Ove as he made him very “real to life.” He was someone with a lot of flaws but also someone we could believe in with a back story that instantly tugs at your heart strings.

BETH: What did you think of the writing style of this book?

CHRISSI: I thought it was immediately engaging. I remember saying to you that I thought it had a very unique vibe about it. I was pulled into the story and found myself racing through the story. It captured my attention and kept it throughout.

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of Ove?

BETH: It might sound a little strange but actually I warmed to him almost immediately! He was an intensely grumpy, rigid old man that was completely stuck in his ways but he also had so many redeeming qualities and reasons why he acted the way he did. I think in a lot of ways, Ove was very misunderstood and he had a heart of gold and although he complained a lot I really believe it was a front that he put up to protect himself.

BETH: Discuss the relationship between Ove and his wife.

CHRISSI: The relationship between Ove and his wife really touched my heart. It was clear to me how much Ove adored his wife. It came across like Ove couldn’t believe his luck, he really didn’t seem to understand why he deserved her. They were so different to one another, yet they had such a special connection. A beautiful relationship. I found his grief over his wife to be absolutely heart-breaking.

CHRISSI: Discuss the relationship between Ove and Parvaneh.

BETH: From the moment that Ove and Parvaneh first meet – when her “idiot” husband is driving and reversing (very bady) in a clearly labelled no drive area in the neighbourhood I thought this is going to be interesting! I think Parvaneh is one of the few people that sees Ove for who he really is and genuinely worries about him, as she has cause to in the early part of this novel. I loved their quite fiery remarks to each other and the way their relationship develops to where Ove has a (grudgingly) newfound respect for her.

BETH: The author treads a fine line between humour and sadness in the novel. Which do you feel wins out?

CHRISSI: This is a tricky question, because there is such a fine line between humour and sadness. I think it’s really going to be down to individual opinion on which one wins out, but for me, I thought the sadness did. It was a heart breaking read that touched my heart, but that was because of the sadness. The absolute despair that Ove was experiencing. The love for Ove’s wife was so strong, it was hard to read about his struggles with his grief and how he felt his world was ending. I did really enjoy the humorous elements of the story though. I think this book would have been depressing without some light relief!

CHRISSI: What message did you take away from this book?

BETH: I think there were quite a few take home messages from this book and I can see why it has become a bit of a talking point. A lot of it is about not judging a person until you get to know them, respecting the older generation by realising they have had a lot of life experience and as a result can give very good advice. It’s incredibly funny and poignant as well as a beautiful love story and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

BETH: Would you read another novel by this author?

CHRISSI: I think I would. The writing was engaging and the story was touching!

 

Would WE recommend it?:

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH: But of course!

 

CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):

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BETH’s star rating (out of 5):

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