Monday Morning Wake-Up Call: Ove!

frederik-backman

Fredrik Backman got tepid responses when he sent out the manuscript for his debut novel, “A Man Called Ove.” Most publishers ignored him, and several turned it down. After a few months and a few more rejections, he began to think perhaps there wasn’t a market for a story about a cranky 59-year-old Swedish widower… “It was rejected by one publisher with the line, ‘We like your novel, we think your writing has potential, but we see no commercial potential,” said Mr. Backman, 35, who lives outside Stockholm with his wife and two children. “That note I kept.”

In hindsight, that critique seems wildly, comically off base. Four years later, “A Man Called Ove” has sold more than 2.8 million copies worldwide…Translation rights have sold in 38 languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Latvian, Thai and Japanese. Mr. Backman has gained a passionate fan base in South Korea, where the novel became a huge best-seller. “No one really knows why,” Mr. Backman said in a recent telephone interview. “Not even the Korean publisher understands what the hell is going on.”

In the United States, “Ove” got off to a slow start. For months, it sold steadily but in modest numbers. Then sales surged. It landed on the best-seller list 18 months after it was first published and has remained there for 42 weeks. Demand has been so unrelenting that Atria Books has reprinted the novel 40 times and now has more than a million copies in print. […]

A college dropout, he once worked as a forklift driver at a food warehouse, taking night and weekend shifts so that he could write during the day…Mr. Backman said. “I’m not very socially competent. I’m not great at talking to people. My wife tends to say, your volume is always at 1 or 11, never in between.”

Mr. Backman started writing blog posts for Cafe about his own pet peeves and outbursts, under the heading, “I Am a Man Called Ove.”  Mr. Backman realized that he had the blueprint for a compelling fictional character, and the novel began to take shape. “There’s a lot of me in him,” he said of Ove. “When we get angry, it’s about a principle, and we get angry because people don’t understand why we’re angry.” […]

Mr. Backman still hasn’t adjusted to the life of a famous author.  “Everyone keeps telling you how great you are and what a great writer you are, and they want selfies, and that’s not healthy, because you start liking that,” he said. “You still have to write like you’re writing for 20 people, or you’re going to freak out.”

~ Alexandra Alter, The Man Behind ‘A Man Called Ove’ 


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Comments

  1. I loved his book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re next, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh I love stories like this! It gives everyone that writes an opportunity to dream big. 🚀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says:

    “When we get angry, it’s about a principle, and we get angry because people don’t understand why we’re angry.”

    Nicely framed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. i just bought this book and hope to see the movie very soon! i’ve read reviews that said it does not disappoint, which is always my fear of a film ruining a great book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved this book too!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Did not read it yet. But sent a copy to my dad few months ago. He loved it. He said my daughter knows me too well.
    I’m looking forward to reading it, hopefully soon.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Is it just me, or is it hard to call a 59 year old a “curmudgeon” ? Still…looking forward to this read.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I understood Ove completely….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved this book and I don’t care how good the movie is, I will not go see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s on my ‘to read’ list! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve enjoyed your earlier posts, when you’ve mentioned “A Man Called Ove” …”Mr. Backman started writing blog posts for Cafe about his own pet peeves and outbursts, under the heading, “I Am a Man Called Ove.” Mr. Backman realized that he had the blueprint for a compelling fictional character, and the novel began to take shape.” <<Yup, like I've said in the past, David you have your book written already!! Kindly, Christie

    Liked by 1 person

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