After emerging on the US literary scene in summer 2014 with the publication of A MAN CALLED OVE, Fredrik Backman shot to prominence when the novel hit and remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over ninety weeks, sometimes sharing the honor with his second and third novels, MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY and BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE. Readers fell in love with Backman’s curmudgeonly Ove (pronounced “Hoover” minus the h and r) and his quirky neighborhood cast of characters, and then demanded and happily received more uplifting and touching fiction in a steady stream in the years since. Lucky for us, Backman has written a book to fit every mood, so go ahead . . . tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll tell you which Backman novel you should pick up next.
Do you need a good cry?
After his wife passes away, grumpy Ove decides there’s nothing left for him to live for. We follow Ove through multiple attempts at joining her in the afterlife, but ultimately we come to see that the joy of living is in the connections we make within our communities, and also often in very unlikely places. This novel will make you laugh and cry in equal measure, and has some unbelievably beautiful quotes about love, community, and growing up. Just have tissues at the ready.
“If you like to laugh AND feel moved AND have your heart applaud wildly for fictional characters, you will certainly fall for the grumpy but lovable Ove (it’s pronounced “Oo-vuh,” if you were wondering).”
Are you in the mood for a bit of an escape?
In Backman’s second novel, we meet precocious seven-year-old Elsa and her tough-as-nails, kind of crazy, definitely different BFF, Granny. When Granny passes away and leaves behind a series of letters for Elsa to deliver to people from her past, we’re immersed in a world of make-believe through Granny’s stories, which might not be as farfetched as it seems. This is a quick read that invites you to imagine life through another person’s perspective, and to embrace the quirk that lives within you. And just a heads-up: a Wurse is not a dog; it’s a Wurse. So don’t worry about the chocolate eating, okay?
This warmhearted love letter between a granddaughter and her grandmother explores big emotions with wisdom and charm.
Are you wondering what comes next in your life?
You might remember Britt-Marie as one of Elsa’s neighbors in MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY, but this novel stands entirely on its own. When Britt-Marie picks up and leaves her cheating husband, “What now?” becomes a constant refrain in her life. She lands a job in the failing town of Borg (to become a soccer coach, of all things), and soon Britt-Marie finds that her previously structured life may not have been all that she thought it was. Imagine On the Road but for a 60-year-old woman, with more laughter and charm, and with a sweet takeaway—that unexpected turns in life can wind up being more rewarding than you could imagine.
Backman’s latest, BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE, is an irresistible novel about finding love and second chances in the most unlikely of places. We are packing our bags to move to Sweden.
Set in a small forest town that could be anywhere in the world, BEARTOWN packs a dramatic punch as the revered town hockey team is thrown into turmoil when its star player commits a violent act. I don’t want to give too much away, so just imagine Friday Night Lights, but in a hockey town, with questions of loyalty, ethics, sexuality, boundaries, and politics all combined to create one nail-biting, beautifully written, absorbing novel.
Are you riled up by current events?
If you loved BEARTOWN, pick up its sequel, US AGAINST YOU, and come back to your favorite characters as they rebuild their team after the events of the past year. We see the Bears from Beartown going head-to-head with their rival team from Hed (yes, that was a pun), but this time around, political intrigue, destructive pranks, and community contempt create a toxic environment that echoes many of the issues we see playing out in the news today.
Looking for a laugh and some good advice?
Little-known fact: Fredrik Backman published A MAN CALLED OVE and THINGS MY SON NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORLD on the very same day, in Sweden, way back when. Happily, US readers can finally get a taste of Backman’s sweet, funny, and poignant personal essays, which share his advice, dreams, and fears as he becomes a first-time father. New parents and lovers of Backman’s fictional work will find a familiar tone here, and will relish his insights into the joys and uncertainties that come with raising little humans.