Thoughts: Der Hundertjährige, der zurückkam, um die Welt zu retten, by Jonas Jonasson, translated by Wibke Kuhn

This was our latest German Skype session reading, and now we have only one more Jonas Jonasson left to read, so I guess he’d better get cracking on the typewriter before we run out!

Not a huge amount new to say since the last time I talked about Jonasson – he’s still light and funny and dry and slapstick. He still sometimes skates a little too easily over politics, but in a way that fits his general irreverence in the face of life and death. Maybe I’m just too British, and used to political-flavoured humour with an undertone of anger (think Pratchett)? Either way, I wouldn’t say it’s a dealbreaker for me, just something I noticed.

It was a weirdly comforting read though in the pandemic, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh out loud multiple times. Jonasson can still bring these crazy threads together and have them pay off in delightfully madcap ways.

In some ways these books are really good for learning with, because they alternate stretches of easy, colloquial German with dense world politics interludes in a way I greatly appreciate, and though of course Jonasson takes a liberty or two I still find myself learning stuff.

Where the first Hundred Year Old Man book skipped through a hundred years of history, this one is very much situated in the very recent past – Brexit, Merkel, Putin, Trump, Kim Jong-Un, and Allan Karlsson lurching between them all, briefcase full of uranium in tow. So that was a weird experience too, reading something so recent that still feels so far away because so much has changed in such a short time! Not just the pandemic either, just so much has happened. Trump is gone, Merkel has gone, Brexit has receded into the background drumbeat of ugh, Putin’s been pretty busy*… Not to mention the pandemic.

I can’t help but wonder if it’s all going to provoke Jonasson into trying to keep up with the world for a little longer before he lets Allan rest for good. I won’t lie, I’d be happy to follow him as far as he gets…

*I originally drafted this post at the end of January and this reads absurdly now. I can’t even remember what I was thinking of in particular. What could he possibly have been doing that could be considered “busy” before starting an illegal war?

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