If you’ve ever read one of my quarterly roundups, you can probably guess who my favorite author of 2019 was. I read 4 of his books last year and LOVED every. single. one. His writing is fresh, captivating, and his character development is perfect.
Fredrik Backman started off as a columnist in Sweden and has since published 9 books. His most well known ones are A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, Bear Town, and Us Against Them. A Man Called Ove was his debut novel, and follows a grumpy widower who keeps trying to kill himself, only to be continually interrupted by his new neighbors. Ove’s character development throughout the novel is slow and steady, and I found myself in tears at the ending. I personally LOVE a grumpy old man, and the way that Ove’s character development takes place lets you see under the surface to a depth you wouldn’t ordinarily find in a novel.
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry was the first Backman book that I read – to be honest, I actually put off reading it for quite a while. The description didn’t seem that interesting to me, but once I started it, I COULD NOT put it down. The grandmother in the story reminded me of my late grandfather – the quirkiness, whimsical nature of her stories that she told her granddaughter – the way she looked at her neighbors – all of it. I recommended this book to SO many of my friends and many of them told me that they saw their late grandparents in the grandmother as well. The writing talent involved in creating a character where your readers can see their own grandparents in it – well, you don’t see that every day, do you?
Backman pitched A Man Called Ove to multiple publishers with lukewarm responses and it took months for it to be accepted. Since then – four years ago – it has become one of Sweden’s most popular worldwide novels since The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. His writing blends grief with humor, creates sympathy with characters who you’d think would be utterly unlikable, and sees the goodness in every single person.
While I wouldn’t characterize his writing as “sweet,” I would absolutely say that each of his characters worms their way right into your heart. His books all start out with simple plot lines that develop so beautifully that you find yourself immediately entranced. I truly recommend any of his books – you simply cannot go wrong.