Anxious People by Fredrik Backman [6/10]

Frederick Backman employs a quirky, jittery style in which the writer often talks to the reader, and this style both irritates and, at its best, invokes involvement. “Anxious People” is not, in that context, as captivating as Backman’s breakout hit, A Man Called Ove, but it is never dull and can unexpectedly hit comedic and emotional heights. I can barely describe the heady caper-style plot but it revolves around a hapless bank robber holding an apartment full of potential purchasers hostage. Switching between aftermath police interviews (themselves replete with complications between the police officers) and the hostage crisis, the plot is a rabbit warren of unlikely connections and surprise switchbacks. As a caper novel, I found it absurd, and that plot dissonance spoiled my enjoyment, but towards the end, I relaxed into the author’s touching, if dictatorial messaging. Overall, Anxious People is a maverick caper jaunt married to earnest sentimentality, and an easy read.

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