The seven off us, including new member liked the book, even if it wasn't our typical type of book we usually choose to read. Not everyone finished it. A few thought it slowed down in the middle. We all found parts that made us really laugh, some of us more than others. There was a great deal of laughter during the meeting as we discussed some of the sillier and surprising elements.
One member thought the plot was predictable and the humor was because of the way the events were described. That member noted that the translator had to have been exceptionally good.
We wondered if Jonas Jonasson was really that funny in real life. (I figure he has to be.)
Mr. Jonasson, born in 1961, was a journalist who at one time owned a large publication, which he sold so he could write his novel. This novel has been made into a movie. OPL does not own it. I'll have to recommend it. He is currently writing another novel called An Alphabet Who Knew How to Count (the working title).
Here is an interview in English (the titles are in German) with the author:
We went around the circle and talked about what we liked and what we didn't like, but mostly we just mentioned the parts that made us laugh.
There was a difference of opinion as to whether our hero, Allan, had knowingly stolen the suitcase of money.
Many loved the historical parts, which made us question if anything remotely like what was described actually happened.
We talked about how many people from other countries know more about our history than many Americans. We think that Mr. Jonasson really knows his history.
We read some sections aloud to each other and laughed all over again.
Some elements we really liked:
Allan walking out in slippers and taking the suitcase, because the man at the bus station had greasy hair and was rude.
The elephant sitting on the car and squashing the bad guy.
The coven of characters explaining to the police what "really" happened and Beauty feigning innocent ears and an aversion to salty language (she cussed a blue streak).
The Bibles were the solution.
The strange other deaths of the bad guys...in the freezer, etc.
The attribution of the "death" smell on the railroad push cart to the 100-Year-Old Man, who, after all, while not actually dead, had to be very near to death due to his age.
The body in the barrel being "alive," because his jewelry and identification resurrected in Djibouti.
The drinking bouts with Stalin and Truman.
Madame Chiang Kai-Shek manipulating the Chinese debacle
The escape from Russia through Korea
Allan giving the solution to building the atom bomb.
That the final group of Allen's followers consisted of police, bad guys, quirky friends and an elephant.
Allan marrying Einstein's dumber bother's Philippino wife, who was beautiful and not bright, but became the country's leader.
We liked that he escaped "the home," and thought the description of the home's administrator Alice was really good.
While this book was not not everyone's cup of tea, we all got a few good laughs out of it. Many of us got way more than that.
I'm waiting for his next book.