A Man Called Ove (novel)

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A Man Called Ove
First edition (Swedish)
AuthorFredrik Backman
Original titleEn man som heter Ove
TranslatorHenning Koch
PublisherForum (Swedish), Atria Books (English)
Publication date
27 August 2012
Published in English
15 July 2014
Media typePrint
Pages368 pp (US)
347 pp (SWE)

A Man Called Ove (Swedish: En man som heter Ove, pronounced [ɛn ˈmanː sɔm ˈhěːtɛr ˈǔːvɛ]) is a novel by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman published in Swedish by Forum in 2012.[1] The novel was published in English in 2013 and reached the New York Times Best Seller list 18 months after its publication and stayed on the list for 42 weeks.[2]

It has been adapted into two films: A Man Called Ove, which premiered in Sweden on 25 December 2015, with Rolf Lassgård in the leading role,[3] and A Man Called Otto, released on 30 December 2022, with Tom Hanks in the leading role.[4]


Backman got his inspiration for this book after reading an article about a man named Ove who had a fit while buying tickets at an art museum. Backman instantly related to this man as he claims to be "not great at talking to people".[2] He started writing blogposts under the heading, "I am a Man Called Ove", where he wrote about his pet peeves and annoyances. Eventually, he realized that his writing had potential for the creation of an interesting fictional character.[2]


"Ove is a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him 'the bitter neighbour from hell.' However, behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heart-warming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations."

–promotional blurb on U.S. edition cover jacket [5]


  • Ove — A grumpy, 59-year-old widower who has recently been forced to retire
  • Sonja — Ove's deceased wife
  • Parvaneh — Ove's neighbour, a pregnant woman of Iranian descent, and a mother of two
  • Patrick — Parvaneh's husband
  • Rune — Ove's former friend who has become a nemesis and neighbour, he now has Alzheimer's
  • Anita — Rune's wife
  • Adrian — The neighbourhood mailman
  • Jimmy — The overweight neighbour


Overall, A Man Called Ove was received well, with the review aggregator website, Bookmarks, giving the book a "rave" review.[6] Kirkus Reviews gave a positive review of the novel, describing how, "the back story chapters have a simple, fablelike quality, while the current-day chapters are episodic and, at times, hysterically funny. In both instances, the narration can veer toward the preachy or overly pat, but wry descriptions, excellent pacing and the juxtaposition of Ove's attitude with his deeds add plenty of punch to balance out any pathos."[7] Publishers Weekly called the novel "a fuzzy crowd-pleaser that serves up laughs to accompany a thoughtful reflection on loss and love. Though Ove's antics occasionally feel repetitive, the author writes with winning charm."[8]



The novel was adapted into A Man Called Ove, a Swedish film released on 25 December 2015,[9] written and directed by Hannes Holm and starring Rolf Lassgård as Ove.[10] The film was nominated for six awards, winning two, at the 51st Guldbagge Awards in 2016.[11][12] It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Makeup and Hairstyling categories at the 89th Academy Awards.[13][14][15][16]

An English-language film adaptation called A Man Called Otto was also released, with Tom Hanks starring and producing.[17]


In January 2015, a stage version of the book, starring Johan Rheborg in the leading role as Ove, premiered in Stockholm.[18]


In July 2014, Dreamscape Media released an audiobook version of this book, read in English by the American actor George Newbern.[19]


  1. ^ "LIBRIS - En man som heter Ove /". Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Alter, Alexandra (2016-10-28). "The Man Behind A Man Called Ove, Sweden's Latest Hit Novel". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  3. ^ "En man som heter Ove (2015)". MovieZine. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  4. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2022-10-17). "Tom Hanks Movie 'A Man Called Otto' Shifts To Christmas". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-12-22.
  5. ^ "A Man Called Ove". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Bookmark | Book Marks". Retrieved 2021-01-11.
  7. ^ A MAN CALLED OVE | Kirkus Reviews.
  8. ^ "A Man Called Ove". Publishers Weekly. 15 July 2014. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  9. ^ "En man som heter Ove". Swedish Film Database (in Swedish). Swedish Film Institute. 25 December 2015. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  10. ^ "A Man Called Ove (2015)". Swedish Film Database. Swedish Film Institute. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  11. ^ Göransson, Jan (4 January 2016). "Nominations for the 2015 Guldbagge Awards" (Press release). Swedish Film Institute. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  12. ^ Norman, Isabel; Nykänen, Joni (18 January 2016). "Glädjevrålet på Guldbaggegalan" [The Joy of the Guldbagge Awards]. Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  13. ^ McNary, Dave (15 December 2016). "Oscars: Nine Films Advance in Foreign-Language Race". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  14. ^ Samuelson, Kate (24 January 2017). "Here Are the 2017 Oscar Nominations". Time. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  15. ^ Tillgren, Jenny (22 December 2016). ""En man som heter Ove" kan få Oscar för make up och hår" [A Man Called Ove Nominated for Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar]. Expressen (in Swedish). AB Kvällstidningen Expressen. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  16. ^ Kit, Borys (21 September 2017). "Tom Hanks to Star in, Produce A Man Called Ove Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Tom Hanks to Star In, Produce A Man Called Ove Movie". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  18. ^ "TeaterStockholm.se » Din guide i teaterdjungeln". Archived from the original on 21 October 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  19. ^ Backman, Fredrik; Newbern, George (2014-07-29). A Man Called Ove (MP3 Una ed.). Dreamscape Media. ISBN 9781629239842. ASIN 1629239844.

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