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We met not to talk about chickens but about his imaginative, laugh-out-loud bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of his Window and Disappeared.Although it has been a sweeping hit in most other European countries, it has taken a surprisingly long time to find a UK publisher. Jonasson’s novel moves Scandinavian fiction in a more light-hearted direction, away from Stieg Larsson’s grim thrillers and television detective series, such as The Killing and Wallander, that have caught the British imagination in recent years. The novel begins with him climbing out of the window to escape his 100th birthday party organised by his care home.
Jonasson always loved writing and when at Gothenburg University, where he studied Swedish and Spanish, started working for Expressen, Sweden’s largest daily newspaper. He was, by all accounts, on the fast lane for the top job but in 1994, after 15 years, decided to quit.“He sort of appears on my shoulder if I get stressed and says, 'Come on, it cannot be that bad’.” He has needed Allan on several occasions, when he has climbed out of his own window and radically changed his life.By now we had moved into his splendid 1850s house to talk.Two years ago, feeling battered by life and in particular by a “tragic divorce”, Jonasson, 51, moved here with his five-year-old son.It is an unlikely place to find a writer who has taken Europe by storm with a comic novel which has sold three million copies in two years and which hits the British bookshops next week.