A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A time like that comes for every man, when he chooses what sort of man he wants to be. And if you don’t know the story, you don’t know the man.
— Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

Leave it to a Swede to write the sweetest story EVER. My Austin bookclub recently read this and I always try to stay abreast of most of what they read - this brought me, otherwise unexpectedly, to Ove, or, rather, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. 

This heartwarming tale shows the past and present of a grumpy middle-aged man named Ove, who lives along a row of houses where no cars are permitted and where neighbors, even begrudgingly, help one another. Ove is mourning the loss of his wife - the romance between them of which we learn about in snippets - and is considering killing himself. However, the arrival of a new neighbor - pregnant, mother of two and with a ditsy husband - changes his life immeasurably, and helps to highlight the community that survives his wife, as much as Ove tries to ignore them.

Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.
— Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

Brilliantly, this book illustrates the painful simplicity of suffering and the redemption through hard work. Ove makes you want to understand everyone with whom you interact before you judge them, in the off chance that they too are a hero in hiding, or a widow in mourning. It also makes you want to move to Sweden and own a mangled cat and live as a model citizen.

Whatever you do, please make sure you read the book long before you watch the film. A day after finishing this book, I saw the film was available on my flight home to Geneva. While it was still sweet, it was not at all the same. Do no shortcut this. If you let Ove in, in his original (translated) form, you will be better for it.