Kristy Bauman kbauman
1. Author Jonas Jonasson describes The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared as “an intelligent, very stupid novel.” What do you think he means?

2. Allan Karlsson is 100 years old. This is unusual; typical icons these days are much younger. How does his age matter to the novel? Did you relate to him? Why do you think the author, Jonas Jonasson, chose to make Allan a centarian? Is there a reason the author would begin the current action on the protagonist’s 100th birthday?

3. Would you call Allan a role model? Why, or why not?

4. At the opening of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Allan climbs out a window to escape a birthday party that clearly means something different to him than it does to the people planning it. What do you think of this act? Is this rebellion? Is this simply expedient? Have you ever considered simply escaping out a window rather than facing something?

5. What do you think the author was saying about our society and the attitude towards aging? Who is the oldest person you know? What have you learned from that person, and did reading The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared make you wish you could hear more of that person’s personal story?

6. Compare The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared to other novels about protagonists who have unexpected adventures and encounters. What does the conceit of inserting fictional characters into real-life situations tell readers? What does it mean to you?

7. Readers learn about Allan’s past through his stories. Do you trust his memory? Did it occur to you that these might not be true? Why? What does it tell you about the nature of the past, and memory?

8. Throughout the novel Allan encounters historical characters, and gets involved in episodes that change history. Which episode did you enjoy the most? Why?

9. Imagine an “outtake” from the novel --- wherein Allan encounters someone from history who does not appear in The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Who would you like it to be?

10. If you had to describe The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared in a single word, what would it be?

11. At 100, Allan’s life is filled with important moments. And yet he does not seem to see these encounters as momentous. Is he naïve? Innocent? What does Allan’s own attitude toward his past and his present tell you about him and his view of life? Do you hold a similar perspective?

12. Reviewers across the globe have commented on the humor in the novel. Did you laugh? Would you define this as comic, or satiric? What is the difference?

13. Have you read other novels by Swedish novelists? If so, which ones? If not, why not? How is this one similar or different?

14. Re-read the final pages of the novel. What do you think will happen to Allan? Why do you think the author chose to end the novel like this? Will you read the sequel?

(Discussion questions courtesy of Reading Group Guides.)
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