Book Reviews With Oumissa #14: A Man Called Ove

 

Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 2014Genre: Fiction
Rating 4/5

What the world sees is a gruff, socially handicapped old man. The vibes he gives off are unwelcoming and sometimes border on being harsh. Almost no one considers that he has lived a life worthy of being told as a story. They assume he has always been like this, of course with no idea of how incidents in his life have affected him.

Ove is upset by everything. The list of infractions that attract his indignation includes the carefree attitude of young people, how anyone would drive a car asides his infallible Saab, the influx of immigrants into Sweden changing the country as he knows it, the nonchalant behaviour of his neighbours towards maintaining a decent community; according to his standards of course. He is even annoyed by cats and men who cannot fix things around the house. He is a man who finds great fulfilment in working with his hands, values diligence, tidy council layouts and community responsibility.

The book is narrated mostly in Ove’s mind’s voice. He is taciturn and most of his expression is the form of monologues in his head where he grumbles and complains about different things. He has devised a secret plan to but the people and incidents around him find a way to get his attention and delay it further from accomplishment.

This is a truly beautiful rendition of how the tensions between new immigrants and already-present nationals can be transformed into relationships built on trust, friendship and even love. In this regard, the credit goes to Parvaneh, his new pregnant Iranian neighbour. She takes a liking to him and is not rebuffed by his outward appearance of steely indifference or hostility. An uncanny friendship builds between him and her young family as he finds himself; against his inclinations, helping them and accepting their help. We witness an unlocking of his memories from a childhood tragedy, youthful days, falling in love with his wife Sonja and finding radiance the type that should last forever.

Image of elderly couple walking down a country road.Book quote: One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead.

They, however, suffer a terrible tragedy that changes the course of their lives. This singular incident seems like the last one too many. Choosing to carry on with what he had left involved great sacrifice, loyalty and dedication leaving a normally reticent person even less available for social interaction. He is still to face perhaps the greatest tragedy of his life, the extinguishing of the one light he has left, and the one person whose love and companionship made life worth living. He is suddenly floundering, unable to carry on, the buffer that helped him navigate necessary human relationships gone. Ove fully descends into the permanent disagreeable mood everyone avoids.

“And it wasn’t as if Ove also died when Sonja left him. He just stopped living. Grief is a strange thing.”

There is a brilliance in the way Backman reveals her death. It was easy to think she was in a state where she couldn’t talk as Ove carried on conversations with her every single day. The story doubles back to his plan to end things in a bid to join her in her realm. A plan which then gets disturbed each time by Parvaneh and her cheery playful daughters, youths in his community, his former best friend with who he has had a feud for decades and even a cat. In them, he finds help to render, receives love, and ultimately they unravel the kind, helpful, loyal man who would risk his own life to protect those he cares about.

So meticulous is he that he postpones his suicide for the duty to help these people even as he finds them annoying. They warm their way into his heart having found the real Ove wasn’t quite as scary as his reputation and inadvertently destroy his suicide plans. They form a giant family, navigating major life experiences together like birthdays, childbirth, hospital visits, crime, driving lessons, coming out to homophobic fathers, caring for a pet with human-like mannerisms.

One big theme of this book is that humans cannot be held at face value. We truly do not know what anyone is like until we get to know them. When they are hostile as Baba Ove was, it takes more effort and can be frustrating but it is clear that in this case, it was worth it especially as his attitude was more of a social recluse who was not violent to anyone. It makes you think of how many people in your life you have misjudged because you do not know more beyond their general demeanour. How many are carrying around unhealed trauma? It makes you want to be kind just as it urges the traumatized person not to view everyone else as an enemy.

The vivid representation of grief, sadness, a difficult childhood and how repeated trauma defines a person’s character and world views was heavy. In addition, we see how the system can consistently be unfair on honest upright citizens as Ove is frustrated at many points in his life by local council rules that take things he loves away from him. All his attempts at fighting back are mostly futile. This causes pent-up resentment and feelings of letting himself, loved ones and values down.

This was a unique reading experience in first, the characteristic tone translated works tend to have, each chapter being eponymous with the book title and of course Ove thinking of himself in the third person meaning he was even aloof from his own essence. An overriding issue that the author highlights is modernity moving too fast for the elderly especially those who have no one left to relive the moments their youth with. They end up feeling dissociated and lonely from the new culture.

The protagonist’s warm side came alive with his mother and then Sonja who despite being dead was such a huge presence all through the book. All of this changed with his new family, a motley of characters who create the atmosphere of love and acceptance he needed and achieved the mean feat of keeping a grief-stricken old man from taking his own life.

It is compelling and would evoke tears so be warned.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?


Dr Mariam Toye

COVID 19 Info Basket- Articles #19

EU borders reopen: Many countries ease travel restrictions

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/eu-borders-reopen-countries-easing-travel-restrictions-200616103958313.html

Regional airports reopen in France as lockdown eases

https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-06-09/Regional-airports-reopen-in-France-as-lockdown-eases-RacclBSLmM/index.html

China races to contain a second wave of coronavirus cases in Beijing

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/china-coronavirus-cases-beijing-second-wave-surge-covid-19-infections-latest-news-today-2020-06-16/

New Zealand’s first COVID-19 cases in 24 days came from UK

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53059633

Common Drug Reduces Coronavirus Deaths, Scientists Report

 

 

WHO welcomes preliminary results on new drug for treating COVID-19

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/398122-who-welcomes-preliminary-results-on-new-drug-for-treating-covid-19.html

Lagos Suspends Reopening of Churches, Mosques Due to Rising COVID-19 Cases

(Updated) Lagos Suspends Reopening of Churches, Mosques Due to Rising COVID-19 Cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asian Perspectives on the Post-Covid-19 World

https://www.forbes.com/sites/panel-of-economic-commentators/2020/06/16/asian-perspectives-on-the-post-covid-19-world/

How COVID-19 will change the world

https://www.ft.com/content/9b8223bb-c5e4-4c11-944d-94ff5d33a909

COVID-19: A look at global geospatial challenges and achievements

COVID-19: A look at global geospatial challenges and achievements

Global report: six US states report most ever new coronavirus cases

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/17/global-report-six-us-states-report-most-ever-new-coronavirus-cases

Don’t blame public for COVID-19 spread, says UK scientist

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/16/dont-blame-public-for-covid-19-spread-says-uk-scientist

Hydroxychloroquine: US revokes emergency approval of malaria drug for Covid-19

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/15/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-fda-emergency-authorization

The president of Honduras has tested positive for the coronavirus.

 

 

Covid-19 can damage lungs of victims beyond recognition, expert says

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/15/covid-19-can-damage-lungs-victims-beyond-recognition-expert-says

Beijing lockdown After 106 COVID-19 Cases Reported in Recent Days

https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/beijing-returns-lockdown-after-106-covid-19-cases-reported-recent-days

The Premier League returns – all you need to know

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/53009593

Chile health minister replaced amid coronavirus controversy

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/chile-health-minister-replaced-coronavirus-controversy-200613194625391.html

Coronavirus: COVID-19 antibodies not detected in up to 8.5% of patients, study finds.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-covid-19-antibodies-not-detected-in-up-to-8-5-of-patients-study-finds-12007209

India’s COVID-19 cases jump from 2 lakh to 3 lakh in 10 days as it records worst daily spike

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/indias-covid-19-cases-jump-from-2-lakh-to-3-lakh-in-10-days-as-it-records-worst-daily-spike/articleshow/76353363.cms

The Latest: South Korea capital adds more coronavirus cases

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/latest-rise-infections-puts-india-globally-71212744

Uncertainty as Spain puts coronavirus death toll ‘on hold’

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1689226/world

Over 8 million views as football returns in Italy

https://www.nation.co.ke/kenya/sports/football/more-than-8-million-views-as-football-returns-in-italy-655160

Super Rugby returns in New Zealand with fans, hugs and handshakes

https://www.bbc.com/sport/rugby-union/53033938

Shahid Afridi tests positive for COVID-19

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/news/shahid-afridi-tests-positive-for-covid-19/articleshow/76355485.cms

Chile’s Health Minister Resigns as Coronavirus Deaths Hit Record

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-13/chile-s-health-minister-resigns-as-coronavirus-deaths-hit-record

Analysis: The countries where COVID-19 cases are on the rise

https://www.euronews.com/2020/06/12/analysis-the-countries-where-covid-19-cases-are-on-the-rise

Moderna set to start final-stage trial of its coronavirus vaccine by July

Moderna set to start final-stage trial of its coronavirus vaccine by July

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan seals off nearly 1,300 hot spots amid virus surge

https://www.gulftoday.ae/news/2020/06/13/pakistan-seals-off-nearly-1300-hot-spots-amid-virus-surge

Brazil’s coronavirus death toll now world’s second highest

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/brazil-coronavirus-death-toll-world-highest-200613050629869.html

Death toll from COVID-19 in Mexico rises by 544 to 16,448

https://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2020/jun/13/death-toll-from-covid-19-in-mexico-rises-by-544-to-16448-2156219.html

Nigeria records 627 new COVID-19 cases, another high for 2 consecutive days – NCDC

https://m.guardian.ng/news/nigeria-records-627-new-covid-19-cases-another-high-for-2-consecutive-days-ncdc/

Virologists vigorously debunk new study on origins of the novel coronavirus

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/virologists-vigorously-debunk-study-origins-coronavirus/story?id=71097846

US human trials begin for first antibody cocktail that might treat and prevent Covid-19.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/11/health/regeneron-covid-19-antibody-trial-starts/index.html

The World Reopens Despite Skyrocketing Coronavirus Cases

AfDB approves 288.5 million USD to support Nigeria’s COVID-19 response

AfDB approves 288.5 mln USD to support Nigeria’s COVID-19 response

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus: Brazil resumes publishing COVID-19 data after court ruling

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-52980642

Burundi president dies of illness suspected to be coronavirus

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/09/burundi-president-dies-illness-suspected-coronavirus-pierre-nkurunziz

COVID-19: John Magufuli declares Tanzania free of the pandemic

https://newsaf.cgtn.com/news/2020-06-09/COVID-19-John-Magufuli-declares-Tanzania-free-of-the-pandemic-RamZGeXYmQ/index.html

Traffic Jams and Jubilation as Moscow Emerges from Virus Lockdown

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/06/09/traffic-jams-and-jubilation-as-moscow-emerges-from-virus-lockdown-a70527

The Global Economic Outlook During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Changed World

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2020/06/08/the-global-economic-outlook-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-a-changed-world

Long Distance

 

4AF6A8C5-A7A0-488C-8575-28E64BDCBA92

Long Distance

To save our lives

The tough decision

Was taken by our leaders

to close borders

 

The gulf of our distance

widening even further

Before, I could catch a flight

Now, nothing is certain

 

Each time the network 

Acts up I’m worried

Each time we connect 

A bigger treasure

 

You’d have filled the house

With that raucous laughter of yours

Would have said you were

proud of me as I face this war

 

You’d have got me a stash

Of sanitizer, panty liners 

And midnight snacks

The things I forget to buy

 

We would have smiled together

Prayed, fought, kept the watch

I’d take a gap of metres

Over thousands of miles 


Isolating sucks

Many times over

in your absence.

I miss you, love

COVID 19 Info Basket- Tweets #18

https://twitter.com/jpm25/status/1266830912999710725?s=21

https://mobile.twitter.com/havilahhealth1

COVID 19 Info Basket- Articles #18

Pakistan COVID-19 infections pass 100,000

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/pakistan-covid-19-infections-pass-100-000-200608101336824.html

Brazil’s Covid Data Fiasco Fuels Outrage Against Bolsonaro

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-08/protests-break-out-in-brazil-amid-coronavirus-data-controversy

New Zealand lifts all Covid restrictions, declaring the nation virus-free

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-52961539

Premier League to resume on June 17 with Man City vs Arsenal among the first fixtures and all matches to be shown live

https://www.goal.com/en/news/premier-league-resume-june-17-man-city-vs-arsenal-fixtures/1knx9fxf64aij16kxjfrafu98z

South African schools reopen as COVID-19 lockdown is eased

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/06/south-african-schools-reopen-covid-19-lockdown-eased-200608114354812.html

Authors retract study showing hydroxychloroquine was dangerous to hospitalized COVID-19 patients

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/04/coronavirus-live-updates-us/

Where Are We in Quest for Coronavirus Drugs and Vaccines?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/where-are-we-in-quest-for-coronavirus-drugs-andvaccines/2020/06/08/93da68b4-a9a2-11ea-a43b-be9f6494a87d_story.html

Coronavirus: Abia cases quadruple as Nigeria records 260 new infections

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/396620-coronavirus-abia-cases-quadruple-as-nigeria-records-260-new-infections.html

Lagos, Osun, Kwara retain ban on religious centres          

https://m.guardian.ng/news/lagos-osun-kwara-retain-ban-on-religious-centres/

Mosques, Churches in Lagos to Reopen from June 19 and 21 -Sanwo-Olu

https://www.channelstv.com/2020/06/04/mosques-churches-in-lagos-to-reopen-from-june-19-sanwo-olu/

UPDATE: 812 healthcare workers infected with COVID-19 — PTF

France Releases Contact Tracing App StopCovid

Mexico and parts of Brazil reopen after lockdown — despite surging coronavirus case

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/02/americas/latin-america-coronavirus-reopening-intl/index.html

Coronavirus: Iran fears second wave after surge in cases

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-52903443

Will Protests Set Off a Second Viral Wave?

First Rohingya refugee dies from coronavirus in Bangladesh: Official

https://www.thejakartapost.com/seasia/2020/06/02/first-rohingya-refugee-dies-from-coronavirus-in-bangladesh-official–.html

Southeast Asia’s Lazada says its online grocery sales in Singapore jumped due to coronavirus

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/02/coronavirus-singapore-online-grocery-sales-lazada.html

(South Africa) schools will reopen on June 8        

https://www.dailysun.co.za/News/schools-will-reopen-on-8-june-20200531

Coronavirus: Primary schools back but mixed picture on turn-out

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52854688

COVID-19 Update: HCQ Study Questioned, Protests and Outbreaks

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/931545

COVID-19: FG bans street trading, hawking          

Jigawa doctor dies after treating COVID-19 patients         

Madagascar announces first COVID-19 death

COVID-19: Madagascar drug to get quick lab analysis, says NAFDAC         

Lesotho becomes last African country to record coronavirus case

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/lesotho-african-country-record-coronavirus-case-200513154809818.html

Brazil Health Minister Nelson Teich Resigns?

French Boy Dies from Coronavirus-linked Kawasaki Disease

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/16/french-boy-dies-from-coronavirus-linked-kawasaki-diseae

Burundi expels WHO Coronavirus Team as Election Approaches

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/14/burundi-expels-who-coronavirus-team-as-election-approaches

Jacinda Ardern Rejected from Cafe at Coronavirus Capacity

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/16/jacinda-ardern-rejected-from-cafe-at-coronavirus-capacity

Loneliness and lockdown exploited in romance scams     

https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/business-52664539?__twitter_impression=true

“Incredible things are happening” in virtual reality say architects in lockdown

https://www.dezeen.com/2020/05/13/incredible-virtual-reality-coronavirus/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Why are some OPEC nations struggling to make any money right now?

https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/countingthecost/2020/05/opec-nations-struggling-money-200516120541961.html

Coronavirus and the prospect of mass involuntary euthanasia

https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/indepth/opinion/coronavirus-prospect-mass-involuntary-euthanasia-200515122939558.html?__twitter_impression=true

What African Nations Are Teaching the West About Fighting the Coronavirus

Jonathan Adewumi, Who Made Everyone Feel at Home, Dies at 57

Dealing with COVID-19 in Somalia and Somaliland amidst an ongoing humanitarian crisis

https://msf.or.ke/en/magazine/dealing-covid-19-somalia-and-somaliland-amidst-ongoing-humanitarian-crisis

First coronavirus case found in Bangladesh Rohingya refugee camps

https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2020/05/coronavirus-case-bangladesh-rohingya-refugee-camps-200514143543211.html?__twitter_impression=true

Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS) Novel paediatric disease from past corona virus infection

https://www.chla.org/blog/health-and-safety-tips/pediatric-inflammatory-multisystem-syndrome-pims-what-parents-should

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fox2detroit.com/news/new-child-illness-multisystem-inflammatory-syndrome-believed-to-be-connected-to-covid-19.amp

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/10/health/coronavirus-mystery-children-symptoms/index.html

British PM reveals conditional plan to reopen society     

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52609952

Billionaire Peter Lim pays for $1 million worth of meals for front-line healthcare workers

Finally, a virus got me- Ebola and HIV scientist    

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/finally-virus-got-me-scientist-who-fought-ebola-and-hiv-reflects-facing-death-covid-19

Epidemiologist calls US Coronavirus response ‘close to genocide’

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/epidemiologist-coronavirus-genocide-by-default_n_5eb2a5ebc5b63e6bd96f5d81

Professor behind lockdown quits after breaking rules to meet lover

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/professor-behind-coronavirus-lockdown-plan-21979710

Teachers going above and beyond for their students during the coronavirus pandemic

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/03/time-take-seriously-link-vitamin-d-deficiency-serious-covid/

We are workers, not heroes.

https://africasacountry.com/2020/05/we-are-workers-not-heroes

COVID 19 Info Basket- Tweets #17

COVID 19 Info Basket- Articles #17

WHO: Nigeria has expressed interest to be part of COVID-19 drug trials

Robot helps Tunisia medics avoid infection from coronavirus patients               https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/05/robot-helps-tunisia-medics-avoid-infection-from-coronavirus-patients/

COVID-19: NAFDAC releases guidance on milk donation

COVID-19 in Sask: Northern leaders say ‘drastic’ action could occur if public health orders not followed

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/covid-19-update-may2-1.5553647

The Independent: Coronavirus: UK death toll rises by 621 to 28,131              http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-uk-death-toll-latest-hospitals-care-homes-community-a9495816.html

Nasarawa StatevAssembly Member Dies of COVID-19 

https://www.channelstv.com/2020/05/03/nasarawa-assembly-member-dies-of-covid-19/Tweets

White House blocks Fauci from testifying before Congress            https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/white-house-blocking-fauci-testifying-congress-about-coronavirus-response-n1198276

9 issues people are bringing up the most in therapy about coronavirus    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/therapy-issues-coronavirus_l_5ea9a8d7c5b6106b8ed0dfd5

Peruvian families flee from virus

https://t.co/2wJBoJyFBq?amp=1

New York subway closes for overnight disinfection           https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/30/nyregion/subway-close-cuomo-coronavirus.amp.html#click=https://t.co/rTduMjoYY3

Frostbite toes, hidden sign of coronavirus.            https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/29/coronavirus-rashes-toes/?outputType=amp#click=https://t.co/v3eZUpuxiZ

A timeline of Trumps 100 days of coronavirus denial       https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/04/trump-coronavirus-timeline/

Why the Coronavirus is so confusing        https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/04/pandemic-confusing-uncertainty/610819/

https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-hampstead-dental-charity-sends-out-toothbrushes-and-toothpaste-to-care-homes-and-shelters-1-6577833

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/adult-oral-care/disinfecting-toothbrush-tips-0

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-news/brushing-teeth-right-time-helps-18167539.amp

https://www.google.com/amp/s/metro.co.uk/2020/04/29/brushing-teeth-can-help-prevent-spread-coronavirus-12625399/amp/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-020-1450-9

Steps taken in California have more than flattened the curve      

https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/crushed-the-curve-researcher-says-steps-taken-in-california-have-done-more-than-flatten-the-curve/amp/#click=https://t.co/XlzPBrDaYc

COVID 19 Info Basket- Tweets #16

COVID 19 Info Basket- Articles #16

Lithuanian capital to be turned into open air cafe to help restaurant owners sell and still maintain distancing       

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/28/lithuanian-capital-to-be-turned-into-vast-open-air-cafe-vilnius

How to manage a pandemic.      

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/14/999239/how-to-manage-a-pandemic-covid-asia-vs-west/

UK records highest weekly death toll from all causes since records began

https://www.rt.com/uk/487097-highest-death-toll-uk-1993-coronavirus/

Coronavirus focus threatens precarious progress in Malaria

https://www.ft.com/content/dbb83b3a-7fbc-11ea-b0fb-13524ae1056b

The impossible ethics of pandemic triage              

https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-impossible-ethics-of-pandemic-triage

Miami goes 7 weeks without a homicide for first time since 1957

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/miami-no-homicide-seven-weeks/

Can Africa afford lockdowns?    

https://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2020/04/24/covid-19-can-africa-afford-lockdowns-by-chukwuma-charles-soludo/

Senegal $1 Testing Kit and Race for vaccines       

Why Europe’s highest death toll is in its capital  

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-25/why-the-world-s-highest-virus-death-rate-is-in-europe-s-capital

African Tech Innovators Spy Opportunity Amid Pandemic             

https://www.ozy.com/around-the-world/africas-tech-innovators-spy-opportunity-in-the-coronavirus-crisis/291468/

Special Report: As virus advanc3s, doctors rethink rush to ventilate.

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN2251PE#click=https://t.co/zaDY88Nz2u

‘Your shift has ended’- Funeral held for NHS nurse who died with coronavirus symptoms.

https://www.channel4.com/news/your-shift-has-ended-funeral-held-for-nhs-nurse-who-died-with-coronavirus-symptoms

The first modern pandemic        

https://t.co/1q7YHRXokz?amp=1

COVID 19 Info Basket- Tweets #15