Title: ANXIOUS PEOPLE
Author: Fredrik Backman
Read: January 2021
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟1/2
A poignant, charming novel about a
crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin
air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common
than they ever imagined.
Fredrik Backman’s BEARTOWN is one of my all time favourite books, and since then I have been devouring everything he has written. With ANXIOUS PEOPLE, Backman again shows what a versatile writer he is. Whilst every one of his books contains a wry sense of humour and some gentle wisdom, his latest one often made me guffaw and snort with laughter as I marvelled about his keen observations of human nature. Some characters were almost caricatures and perhaps a little bit over the top, but presented in a way that made me reflect on those parts in myself that related to the character traits portrayed here.
Whilst ANXIOUS PEOPLE revolves around the tale of a bank robbery gone wrong, it is so much more than that. Backman throws together a bunch of unlikely characters in a type of comical hostage situation, and with their interactions makes us reflect on being human, on relationships, life, death and the way we all just try our best to muddle through life. The story is quirky as it is observant, and the irony in some of his scenes made for some laugh-out-loud moments and yet also prompted reflection on its emotional depth. The message is clear: be kind to one another, because when it comes down to it, we all have our burdens to bear and are trying the best we can. In the time of the global pandemic, this struck me as especially timely and relevant.
Quirky may be your thing or it may not – here it strangely worked for me, even though I may not have swallowed this as readily from another author. However, despite all the guffaws and the banter, I found that I did not connect as deeply to the characters here as I did to the cast of BEARTOWN (a book that utterly broke my heart), or A MAN CALLED OVE. I also thought that quirky is best taken in small doses, not devoured as rapidly as with Backman’s other books. In the end, I thought it was a fun read but not my favourite by the author – so if quirky and whimsical is not for you, I urge you to try some of the author’s other books because he is a man of many talents.