Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
review copy; 352 page
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is a very highly recommended about a bank robber and a hostage situation - only it isn't. It is a poignant, charming
novel about idiots, connections, coincidence, parents, relationships,
anxiety, death, life, love, and more. I loved this novel! One of the
best books of the year!
A would-be bank robber runs out of the bank, across the street, into
an apartment open house, and inadvertently takes eight strangers
hostage. The hostages include Roger and Anna-Lenna, an older couple who
buy and flip apartments; Julia and Ro, a pregnant first-time home-buying lesbian
couple; Zara, a wealthy bank director; Estelle, an
eighty-seven-year-old woman, the real estate agent, and a surprise guest
locked in the bathroom. When the hostages are released, the bank robber
appears to have somehow disappeared, leaving a pool of blood behind.
The police team are father and son, Jack and Jim, are interviewing the
impossible group of hostages who are all anxious, impossible to get
straight answers from, and, well, idiots. They are the
worst group of hostages in the world for the failed bank robber, but no
one is exactly who they seem to be and all of them need to be rescued in
I loved Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. I love everything
about this novel. Every. Single. Thing. Backman has the ability to tell
his story but include all manner of other observations and reflections
about... everything. And then he includes a thought that will knock the
breath out of you. There is no other author who can have me gaffawing,
giggling, shaking my head in agreement over something (probably in
regards to Stockholm or Stockholmers), and then sobbing - all on one
page of text. There is an unsurpassed understanding and insight into human nature present in everything Backman writes.
What other author can include so many truisms that reach the very core
of your thoughts? (For example: Hand on heart, which of us hasn’t wanted
to pull a gun after talking to a twenty-year-old? - which I found
especially funny but that is based on my real life.)
There is a plot, but it is a meandering reveal of so many tangents,
connections, and unexpected information that will take the whole
narrative to reach the end and pull it all together. It all does reach a
perfect ending. In between chapters that tell the story of the hostage
situation are excerpts from the police interviews with the hostages. All
the characters are wonderful in their own way. Yes, they are
impossible, but they are also all too human. He does develop them, in
his own special way as the plot evolves. This is most certainly one of
the best books of 2020!
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Atria.