X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Culture House Daily

A novel for men who don’t read novels

2 July 2014

8:30 AM

2 July 2014

8:30 AM

Are you the sort of man – or is your man the sort of man – who’s always meaning to read more novels but never gets round to it? Proper novels, I mean, rather than your John Grisham/Andy McNab stuff. Well the book you’ve been waiting for is soon to be published: A Man Called Ove by the Swedish writer Fredrik Backman.

Ove (pronounced ‘Oover’) was born on Backman’s blog, whose readers then demanded he write a novel about the character. Backman obliged, the result sold like hot smorgastartas in his native land and now it’s going to conquer the world. The reason it’s the perfect book for weaning men back onto literary fiction is that Ove is just like us. He’s a grumpy old pedant. No matter if you’re younger than his 59, or less bothered about neighbours breaking residential parking restrictions, or more relaxed about the fact that no one knows how to put up shelves properly these days, there will be a part of you that’s just like Ove. He even hits a clown at one point, and any man who tells you he hasn’t wanted to do that is lying.

[Alt-Text]


The book starts with Ove in a bad emotional place (the sort of phrase he’d hit me for), and sees him undergo the one thing he’s always hated: change. He reluctantly inherits a cat, who for the rest of the story is known simply as ‘the cat’ – why would you name it? His neighbours get on his nerves, some by driving cars that aren’t Saabs, some by cooking food that isn’t sausages or potatoes, all of them by merely existing. Gradually we learn how Ove’s past made him so angry, or rather heightened the anger that was always there to start with, and our view of him changes. Sorry Ove – that word again.

Forgive me talking to him like that. It’s just that as with any truly great novel, I simply refuse to believe he doesn’t exist. My partner read the book first, and spent the whole time muttering ‘that’s my father… that’s you… that’s your father… .’ She says she now understands men a little better because of the experience. I understand myself a little better. In that respect Fredrik Backman is very Nick Hornby.

So do yourself a favour: get a copy of this novel. Ove will win you over.

Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove is Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime next week

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close