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100-year-old tale brings Swedish author unlikely global success

100-year-old tale brings Swedish author unlikely global success

Published: 31 Mar 2013 08:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 31 Mar 2013 08:41 GMT+02:00

Jonas Jonasson, a former media mogul who sold up to go and live in peace on a remote island, has made a splash in international literary circles with his novel about a 100-year-old man who escapes from a home for the elderly.

Jonasson's book, described by the UK Independent as "arguably the biggest word-of-mouth literary sensation of the decade", has notched up a sixth place listing on Amazon's chart despite little media hype or marketing.

The book, entitled The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, has sold five million copies worldwide despite not conforming to the Nordic noir genre made popular by Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy.

Jonas Jonasson explained the book's unlikely success in that it presents a tale of escapism that appeals to those who live a humdrum existence.

"In general, we all live grey lives," Jonasson told the newspaper.

Jonasson took a decision to change his own life some five years ago, selling the media business he had built up because running it was making him ill. He retired to an island for a taste of the quiet life and began to write.

The result was his debut novel published in 2009 and which quickly became a best bestseller in Sweden. The rights have now been sold to 30 countries and a Swedish-language film is due to be released during 2013.

The international success has however come with a downside as Jonasson has been presented with a tax bill of 12.7 million kronor ($2 million) by the Swedish tax authorities, who allege that he hid income on Cyprus.

Jonasson has denied that he deliberately tried to avoid paying tax and is cooperating with the agency to clarify the matter.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter on Twitter here.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:31 March 31, 2013 by Kalyissa
This book is brilliant. Its incredibly funny.
14:35 March 31, 2013 by Rishonim
Congrats to Jonas Jonasson. $2M in taxes? Jonas, you should leave Sweden and set up shop elsewhere. CH, Jersey, etc.. I love your parent naming creativity BTW;-)
19:02 March 31, 2013 by Phillynilly
Could buy a Bugatti Veyron custom for that.... Dontcha just love Sweden....
01:18 April 1, 2013 by tekstrom
I checked the Stadsbibliotek website and it appears they do not have it in English. Is it even out in English, and if so where do I get it??? I could do with a good laugh.
15:16 April 1, 2013 by Kalyissa
tekstrom ; you can find it easily online if you have a ebook reader / laptop / smartphone to read or you can import it via Amazon
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