Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly why you like a book and sometimes it’s really simple. In the case of this book, its fairly straightforward. It gives a wonderful overview of 20th century history and politics from the viewpoint of a person who was (or so the author would have you believe) inextricably linked to all the major events which have shaped our modern world. Largely this centres around the nuclear arms race and later the attempts to come back from this. We encounter real events and real people ( Einstein, Mao Tse Tung, Kim Jong il etc) and fictional whilst on this journey.
This, however, is not the front of the plot. We meet Allan Karlsson as he leaves his retirement home via the window on the eve of his 100th birthday. He is then caught up in a series of events which lead to death and mayhem and involve a large suitcase full of money. This plot is pure nonsense but it is fun and allows a reflection on his life up to that point, hence the history lesson.
It’s a modern fable and none the worse for that.