Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman Book Review.

Hi Readers! Now that I have a HUGE TBR PILE, I have come up with a new way of reading books. I am already reading Little Women in the morning before work. Then, I am reading The Vanishing Half post work before sleeping at night. Because this constitutes only 2 hours reading max a day, my speed has become unbearably slow. That is why, on weekends, I am going to start an entirely new book & finish it in 2 days, which is exactly how I finished reading Anxious People by Fredrik Backman! I know it’s a bit of a flawed plan, but I can’t think of anything else so it will be this till I get bored of it.



Anxious People is essentially a story about idiots, as you will often read it in the book itself. An idiot bank robber tries to rob a cashless bank & when that goes to shit, he takes a few other idiots hostage who are at an apartment viewing in the same building. This is then continued when idiot policemen enter the scenario. Anxious People is a much comical thriller with a lot of wisdom in it. You can never find another book written in this manner. This book is unlike anything Fredrik Backman has ever written but still as usual, he has won over the readers with this book as well! If you love CHARACTER-DRIVEN stories with a LOT OF TWISTS & also some LIFE LESSONS along the way which are truly relatable in the basic sense of HOW HUMAN WE ARE, then you will surely LOVE this book!


There are a lot of characters in the story, but it’s never confusing. We have the policeman father-son duo of Jim & Jack. Then there’s the bank robber. Then we have the hostages; Anna-Lena & Roger, who are husband-wife; Zara, who stands out the most; Ro & Julia who are wife-wife; Estelle who is the sweet elderly lady; Lennart, the rabbit & lastly the estate agent. This is a FUN combination of people who start out as strangers who want the same apartment to becoming friends during the hostage drama one giving up the apartment for the other. It was TRULY AMAZING to see so much going on in each of their lives in addition to what was happening in the hostage situation.



I absolutely love reading it when the narration is not just one big collection of words with one story ongoing. What keeps me engrossed is different styles of text, multiple story lines of different characters, past, present & future of the same story with multiple perspectives. And, Anxious People had all of this. We have every single character’s own story, we have the hostage drama’s past & future, we have Jim & Jack’s version of the story, we also have the police interrogating the witnesses in a dialogue narration. All these factors matter into making it a whole good piece of fiction!

The only thing where I had a problem was with the voice of characters. In the interrogation room, all the characters talk in the same manner. There was a lot of scope to give all of them a different voice, a different style of talking & a different sense of life because there are so many of them. But, instead, it just feels like we are reading what the author has written, when it should be like we are reading what the characters have to say. This bit was quite disappointing in an otherwise impeccable work of fiction.


When I first started reading it, I had no idea what I was in for. But soon when the bank robber takes all the apartment viewers hostage, it becomes evident how it will end. We have an amateur bank robber who failed to rob a bank because it was cashless & just because the bank robber doesn’t know what to do next, he/she takes those people hostage. Everyone in the room know this. So it is fairly obvious that all these hostages would eventually help the bank robber in escaping. But, the unpredictability of the whole thing still exists because we don’t know exactly HOW they will help the robber escape. I loved how we don’t find that out until the very end!

I also like the unpredictable parts about all the people’s stories connecting to the bridge. That was something ingenious which I never saw coming. That bit just goes to show how we may never know whose life we are impacting unknowingly which is why we should ALWAYS be kind to one another.


There is the golden touch of Backman’s writing in this story in the way wisdom flows right in the middle of the story but with the perfect balance of wisdom & fiction. There are so many things in that novel having multiple layers. We see how a person decided to rob a bank only because he/she cannot pay a month’s rent. We see a teenager who was to commit suicide was saved by another only so that the former becomes a psychologist later in life. We see how a young boy is unable to prevent a suicide which later makes him want to save people & so becomes a policeman. All the distant connections in the novel may seem too bizarre & unlikely, but the point is that they happen on the daily & in such sense that we never even realise whose life we have touched. We see how everyone is essentially the same. The next person finds adulthood just as daunting as you do. The next person is just as human as you are. At the very core, we are all the same. This story restores a person’s faith in humanity & the goodness of things.

While keeping it mellow yet powerful, the writing is just perfectly humorous at times. Only when you look at it from afar, you realise how hysterical the situation is. Likewise, if you pause & meditate to look at your own life from a distance, you will realise how funny it is that you don’t actually have anything to worry about. In that sense, this book is one of the best feel-good novels that I have read recently.


Throughout the novel, I felt like the author has literally taken a shot at everything that’s wrong with the world. He has mentioned how unemployment & poverty can drive a normal person like you & I to take a drastic measure like robbing a bank. In a prose where he mentions how it is wrong to kill & later goes on to mention in a sarcastic manner how it is okay to kill animals because we need food. He has also called out vegans, most of whom are vegan for themselves but tell the world it’s an effort to save the planet. And the most obvious of all is that we all have our anxieties so it’s okay to accept it & live our life. He talks about mental health in such a subtle yet effective manner as no one has talked about before. I’m pretty sure if I read this book again, I will have more takeaways from it.


I have rated Anxious People at 4.5/5 stars & this book goes in my favourites! With this fresh writing & a new vision, Fredrik Backman has restored my faith in his books. I am definitely going to read whichever books I haven’t yet read by him!

Until next time,

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