October 30, 2020

Book review: 'Anxious people' by Fredrik Backman

Title: "Anxious People"

Author: Fredrik Backman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 2020)

Available in :Paperback and Kindle format

This is a story about 'idiots', relatable to the core because each one of us at some point in life has been one.

It is a story about how we adults are actually children in disguise, unaware of where we are going, forced to accept responsibilities we are not always ready for, but trying to fulfil them to the best of our abilities anyway.

It is a story about a bank robbery gone wrong, about an ensuing hostage drama, and a bunch of strangers each with their own eccentricities, finding a common thread.

Narrated in a light and riveting style, Fredrik Backman frequently employs the ‘Rashomon effect’. It alternates between sarcastic but humorous interviews with the hostages and a tongue in cheek account of what ‘actually’ happened.

A few pages down, and you are almost tempted into believing it is a comedy (of errors), until you read on and discover the profundity of interwoven wisdom.

‘Anxious people’, I’d love to classify, as a community read. It is self-help disguised in a refreshingly non-patronising manner...something you’d want to pick especially during a pandemic like the one we are going through, when empathy is the need of the hour.

However, there were a few instances in the book that felt larger than life. What I didn’t particularly enjoy is that Backman has taken care to explain (repeatedly at times) and tie all the ends together, leaving very little to the readers imagination. While I do appreciate a well rounded-up story, I also respect authors who respect their readers intelligence and leave a few instances open ended. But then again, perhaps reconfirmation is a strategy to suit the theme (‘anxiety’) of the book.

The realization how our life can be affected by the life of strangers we may have momentarily crossed paths with, the decisions that don’t always make sense but we are forced to take for the ones we love, and last but not the least, a reminder that it is not always our fault...Backman explores these themes in this wonderfully spontaneous and witty NewYork Times Bestseller.

I rate this one 4 on 5.

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