Friday, April 5, 2019

The Accidental Further Adventures...

The Accidental Further Adventures of the 100-year-old man, Jonas Jonasson

After having greatly enjoyed the 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, I was excited to see a sequel has been published. Jonasson has brought the hijinks of Allan Karlsson right up to date and inserted him straight into the current political climate.

The novel opens with him and Julius in Bali, living off the proceeds found in the previous book. However, the money is fast running out and Julius is trying to establish some new business ventures, all as dodgy as those he got up to previously. Allan has been recently introduced to the idea of a tablet:
[Observing someone using one] “It was a tool of some sort. A flat back object with a half-eaten apple on one side, and on the other a screen that lit up when you touched it … The tablet could show what was going on in the world, and what had already gone on, and it it verged on showing what was about to happen. Depending on where you touched, up came pictures and videos of all imaginable sorts. And some unimaginable ones.”
Allan become fascinated with happenings around the globe and spends the bulk of his time now connected to world events in a way he has never been previously. This gives Jonasson a way to comment on how news and reporting works on the internet and the variety of stories and sources that can be found there.

A small birthday celebration in a hot air balloon for Allan’s 101st birthday goes quickly awry when they are carried off across the sea with no rescue in sight. Their flare gets the attention of the vessel Honor and Strength, returning to North Korea in possession of some enriched uranium, secreted on board via contacts in Madagascar. They are picked up by the vessel when the captain realises they have to react or international suspicions will be aroused. Allan manages to convince the captain and later Kim Jong-un that he is a nuclear expert (after all he was evolved in the creation of the atomic bomb in the 1940s) and promises to help out.

Of course, extricating themselves from such a promise with their lives intact requires some creative thought and help from the Swedish UN representative. Allan and Julius then find themselves in the USA, meeting President Trump and deciding how to manage the problem of the uranium now in their possession. In time, they move back to Europe and Angela Merkel ends up involved as well.

The silliness continues throughout, with the calm and light-headed Allan continually sorting out their troubles with little to no effort.

The first book made numerous comments about historical episodes over the last century. In this book, Jonasson is clearly wants to use current world leaders as fodder for amusement. As some world leaders at the moment are easy to satirise and use in this way, he succeeds.
“Margot Wallstrom took an extra large sip of her replenished wine to calm her nerves as she wondered what would happen if someone were to let Kim Jong-un and Benjamin Netanyahu into the same room. Monumental lack of humor and self awareness against monumental lack of humour and self-awareness. All that would be missing was Donald Trump as a mediator.” 
Obviously this book will only appeal to some; you have to be in a whimsical and mildly irreverent mood. It would also make it easy if you had little respect for the current leaders of some nations. I found myself wondering at which point libel could come into play, but presumably the clear note at the beginning that this is made up covers such things. Jonasson is certainly using fiction as a method of commenting on world politics, the mess much of it is, and the questionable decisions and character of national leaders. I did enjoy the humour and the spin he put on things, and at the same time was obviously aware of the message he was trying to get though.

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