Saturday, April 25, 2015

Titles that tell the story

What is it lately with novels having extra long titles? I have seen really ancient books with long titles.The longest ever book title belongs to Nigel Tomm which has 670 words; or as it is known : Selected Works of Nigel Tomm. There has been a trend of Swedish comedies that have long titles. Do they need extra words so nothing is lost in translation? Or is this normal in these countries?

One example is The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Allan Karlson lives in a seniors citizen residence and about to celebrate his 100th birthday. The home wants to mark this occasion with a party. Allan is not interested in the fuss, so he steps out the window and disappears. Through a series of events he gets a hold of drug money and goes on the run from the old age home, the police and the drug dealers. Besides the adventures that take place in the present day we also hear Allan’s life story. These adventures include encounters with President Harry S. Truman, Winston Churchill, Mrs. Mao Zedong and various historical figures. I guess he is the Swedish equivalent of Forrest Gump.

Jonas Jonasson continues his flights of fancy in the novel The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden. Nombeko Mayeki is a young Soweto girl born during South African’s most troubled times. Put to work at the age of five, Nombeko has grand plans for herself. She teaches herself to read and write. At the age of 15 she manages to escape her dismal life. She makes it out of Soweto and with millions of smuggled diamonds goes to Sweden. There she encounters twins who plans on bring down the Swedish monarchy by any means possible! Is it Mission Impossible? I suppose you can tell from the title that it is not, however the wild adventure is fantastic!

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules and the sequel The Little Old Lady Strikes Again by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg prove Swedish authors have great imaginations! Seventy-nine year old Martha Anderson dreams of leaving her shabby nursing home. She enlists her four closest friends, AKA The League of Pensioners, to protest the horrible conditions, stating that prisoners are treated better than seniors. They deliberately commit crimes in the hope of being placed in prison and because they are seniors they are the last people suspected. In this novel and the sequel the crimes they commit are accomplished in a very weird, humorous and roundabout way. The sequel has them still on the run and planning more crimes to help out neglected members of society. This satire will both have you angered at the system and amused at the antics the League gets up to. Well worth the read.

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe by Romas Puertolas. Puertolas received Le Grad Prix Jules-Vern, sold over 100,000 copies in France by August 2014 and has become an international best seller sold in 36 nations. I don’t know what it is with the Swedish theme but it continues with this funny French novel. Okay, it is a IKEA in France where the novel begins but that counts as Swedish, eh? Just like the Jonasson novels, we encounter a descriptively long title, a wide and weird cast of characters and a plot that demands you suspend your disbelief. The Fakir cons his village into getting him a ticket to Paris to buy a bed of nails. I know, I know, I can see you shaking your head, but just go with it and you will have an enjoyable ride as the Fakir goes from country to country to country, completely by accidents of fate. I look forward to his second book, The Little Girl Who Swallowed a Cloud as Big as the Eiffel Tower, which has just been published in French on January 7, 2015. I can hardly wait for it to be translated into English.

So suspend your disbelief and sometimes logic and just enjoy these wild reads.

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