Nordic Humor Books (Yes, really)

Scandinavia has received a lot of attention lately its Nordic Noir crime fiction. And for good reason – it is excellent. But Scandinavia’s humor fiction is getting a lot of attention too.


Yes, I said Scandinavian humor fiction – Nordic Nyuk Nyuk?? – well not really. Earlier we wrote about “A Man Named Ove” – a critically acclaimed work of humor fiction from Sweden. Here are two more Nordic humor books that you should read: The The 100 Year Old Man Who Went Out The Window and The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules.

The 100 Year Old Man Who Went Out The Window has sold over 5,000,000 copies worldwide. Author Jonas Jonasson takes us on a wonderful adventure in this, his first book.

The son of an ambulance driver and a nurse, Jonasson was born and raised in Växjö in southern Sweden. He stopped working in 2003 at a media company he started, after having two major back operations and being overworked. In 2007, he completed his first book and it was published in Sweden in 2009. Today, Jonasson has been living with his son on the Swedish island of Gotland.

Publishers Weekly said:

The intricately plotted saga of Allan Karlsson begins when he escapes his retirement home on his 100th birthday by climbing out his bedroom window. After stealing a young punk’s money-filled suitcase, he embarks on a wild adventure, and through a combination of wits, luck, and circumstance, ends up on the lam from both a smalltime criminal syndicate and the police. Jonasson moves deftly through Karlsson’s life—from present to past and back again—recounting the fugitive centenarian’s career …. Historical figures like Mao’s third wife, Vice President Truman, and Stalin appear, to great comic effect. Other characters—most notably Albert Einstein’s hapless half-brother—are cleverly spun into the raucous yarn, and all help drive this gentle lampoon of procedurals and thrillers.

You can read more about Jonasson in a great interview in The Telegraph.

When I started reading this book it was in the waiting room at a gastrointestinal clinic (I was the “procedure buddy” for my friend). I started laughing and laughing and discovered that people waiting for colonoscopies are not in the mood to be around someone laughing. Nevertheless I recommend this book highly and can’t wait until I’m 100 so I can climb out a window and have such a great adventure – well actually I can wait.


But if I can’t wait until I reach the century mark to stir up a little trouble, I could always follow in the footsteps of Martha Andersson.

Martha Andersson is the leading character in The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg. Another Swedish author Ingelman-Sundberg is a former journalist and marine archaeologist who has written many books in different genres, including popular science, cartoons, children’s and historical fiction.

Photo Credit: Harper Collins

The title in Sweden is “Kaffe och rån” translated as Coffee and Robbery. In 2016 this bestseller was released in the United States to wonderful reviews.

Publisher’s Weekly said:

… 79-year-old Martha Andersson gets fed up with her treatment at the Diamond House retirement home, starting with its bad food and restrictions. Martha decides to do something about her situation by enlisting a number of her geriatric friends, including 79-year-old Oscar “Brains” Krupp, in becoming “the most troublesome oldies in the world.” They form the League of Pensioners and embark on a series of escapades that begins with a kitchen raid and grows progressively bolder to include a bank robbery. The OAPs (old age pensioners) prove both adept and inept in ways that are both charming and surprising as they pull off the theft of paintings by Renoir and Monet from Stockholm’s National Museum, and then have to deal with the consequences.

The High Museum of Art in Atlanta Georgia described it as “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel meets The Italian Job.”  and a great read for anyone. There is an interesting Q&A piece with Ingelman-Sundberg here.

These books make a great gift idea for the holidays. Give both books to someone who loves to read and perhaps who is retired (or near retirement) – so they can get some ideas on what they can do with their spare time.

You know in case woodworking, knitting, and starring at the sea starts to get boring.