Anxious People by Fredrik Backman: Occasionally in life, a book will fall in your lap, for which you have utterly no expectation nor any background knowledge about, and 10 pages in, you’ll feel like you have entered a profound world of storytelling wherein your heart may stop beating if you can’t devour it all at once.
Anxious People, a mishmash of genres, is sublime in its aesthetic impact, and without doubt, is one of those books. Simple narrative voice that has a non-linear, almost interrupted style, weaves a kind of magic that is akin to Kurt Vonnegut’s observations and Penny Dreadful’s poetry. In more ways than one, this is a true love story: the unconditional love of parents and children, love between partners, love of life and indeed, finding ways to love ourselves. The perceptive commentary regarding the human condition and the almost situational comic-tragedy that unfolds, is just simply clever.
Clever ordinary characters that are ironically extra-ordinary, clever simple dialogue that makes you laugh and cry simultaneously, clever tension management that gently inclines rather than peaks, and a clever summation regarding the unknowing impact we have on each other. Each of the 11 characters are imperceptibly linked to each other in a fabulous take on 6 degrees of separation and without an unfortunate string of circumstances, they would never have become the unlikely group of strangers to have bonded via a hostage drama, resulting from a panicked bank robber escaping through the only doorway that made sense at the time. And so, our bank robber finds themselves waving a pistol around an open viewing of an apartment for sale to the prospective buyers.
Father and son duo, Jim and Jack, both still struggling with the loss of their wife and mother, find themselves at the scene of the bank robber hostage drama trying to take down their criminal, albeit, awkwardly together. And from page to page, the character’s lives begin to unravel and who they think they are and what they mean to each other begins to change shape. From Ro and Jules, our soon to be mothers, to old and wise Estelle, to borderline Asperges Zara, to Nadia, our survivor, to long time couple Roger and Anna-Lena, to Lennart our acting rabbit; each character ends up pivoting in an entirely different direction as a result of the very bizarre circumstance they find themselves in.
Paradoxically, Anxious People will break your heart and somehow manage to fill it within the one breath, and from moment to moment, this becomes an entirely compulsive read that dishes up some significant insight. I highly recommend you leap into this one feet first, because undoubtedly, it’s impact is sure to leave your mind humming and your heart singing for days, if not a life time.
Publication: September 8th 2020 | Atria Books |
This is a poignant comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.
Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers slowly begin opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.
As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.