‘It is what it is, and whatever will be, will be.’ That’s the mantra according to which Allan Karlsson has lived his life – and a very long and eventful life it’s turned out to be. In fact, by embracing the randomness of fate, Allan has quite accidentally played a key role in several of the major historical events of the 20th century. From saving General Franco from being blown to smithereens, to unlocking the secret of the atom bomb for the US, and then for Russia, razing Vladivostok to the ground, and providing the catalyst for Kim Jong Il’s life-long paranoia – Allan has done it all, without ever really intending to. He’s been incarcerated (in a mental institution in Sweden, a secret police headquarters in Iran, and a Russian gulag), and he’s dined with presidents and dictators. Despite some fairly steep ups and downs, he’s reached the rather ancient age of 100. And now he finds himself incarcerated again – this time in an old age home, his slippers slightly damp with pee. But Allan is not ready to go quietly into the good night. And he’s certainly not ready to give up his freedom and his vodka habit. So rather than face the mayor, guests, journalists, nurses and old folk who have gathered to mark his centenary, he steps out of his window and makes an arthritic escape to the bus station. There he has a chance encounter with a rather disagreeable, greasy-haired young man. Allan decides on whim to steal the lout’s suitcase. And so, quite randomly, he begins another grand adventure. This time, he’ll find himself on the run from drug dealers, gang bosses and the police, he’ll commit murder, more or less accidentally, more than once, and he’ll befriend a motley bunch of misfits, including an escaped circus elephant. Being Allan, he’ll take it all in stride.
Expect black humour, incredulity, silliness, laugh out loud moments, and a crazy romp through world history. My favourite line: ‘You see, Mr Prosecutor, I haven’t always been a hundred years old. No, that’s recent.’