Jonasson’s book contains a mish-mash of characters that interact in differing ways and are used in differing ways to set the scene for the protagonist’s life story that leads up to her needing to save the king of Sweden.
The main character Nombeko is from South Africa, whose position during the seventies and Apartheid, is to manage latrine emptiers until she is run over and called into the service of an engineer because she dented his car. Along the way and as time progresses, Nombeko deals with international delegates, atomic bombs and of course the King of Sweden. I feel to give you any more details, would give away the book. For, this plot is incredibly intertwined between characters, their personalities, changing timelines (some readers may become confused by this) and the randomness of how the world could act. It is a plot that appears corny, but is written incredibly well, and all connects well that even randomness makes sense in the end. I did find the pace slow, but this is also a genre/style of novel I am not used to reading. The fact that it is humourous and I probably only understood about 80% of the jokes (my historical/political knowledge isn’t up to par), may also have been a factor in taking a while longer to read than it normally would. In saying that, what I did catch onto was rather funny.
The characters are all quirky and very interesting. Nombeko has a satirical (almost arrogant in part) air about her that sets her apart from others and how they value her (Nombeko is not Caucasian in the middle of Apartheid: you can guess the rest). I actually enjoyed her train of thought and personality. The other characters that show up strongly (and some are given quite large amounts of space within the novel compared to Nombeko) also have quirks that made them either strongly likeable or disagreeable (including two people who were only legally one person, three Chinese girls, a drunk engineer and a not-so-countess countess). I found them humourous and the way they interacted and how they fumbled through life rather entertaining.
This is Jonasson’s second novel, his third is coming out in April. If humourous tales are your thing, then this writer is definitely recommended for you. He writes his style rather well and it is very clever (even if I didn’t always understand everything he threw at me). The story even for its time jumps can be easily followed and the characters are entertaining (just to see how they respond to and also create for themselves strange circumstances and situations). However, the pace is not incredibly fast and if you don’t enjoy being confronted with a lot of political/historical story within your fiction novel, then probably give this one a miss.
3 / 5