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Anxious people : a novel
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Booklist Reviews

When the world's most hapless bank robber inadvertently takes a group of the world's most helpful people hostage, hilarity doesn't exactly ensue as much as it evolves. With a failed marriage, no job, potential loss of child custody, and a looming eviction, the idea of robbing a bank presents itself as an appealing solution to this harrowing list of woes. When the bank turns out to be one of those new-fangled cashless entities, the foiled robber flees and dashes into a nearby apartment building where an eclectic group of potential buyers is suffering through a sale's pitch. Unwitting participants in the developing drama, the group nonetheless warms to their wannabe-bank-robber captor and each other over the course of the day's events. In this small suburb of Stockholm, only the local police are on the scene, a father-and-son team who try hard not to step on each other's toes while deescalating the hostage situation and interviewing witnesses. With poignant and sympathetic care, the always incisive and charming Backman (Us Against You, 2017), gently examines garden-variety insecurities against a quaint pre-pandemic backdrop. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

Wealthy bank director Zara visits open houses to feel normal. Roger and Anna-Lena obsess over fixer-uppers because they can't manage their own marriage. Expecting lesbian parents Julia and Ro want something to agree on. And cool and collected 80-year-old Estelle has her own reasons for house hunting. They're all trapped at an open house by a masked gunman eventually less scared of the police outside than the nutty people within. With a 350,000-copy first printing.

Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Library Journal Reviews

In this latest from the author whose string of international hits began with A Man Called Ove, bossy bank director Zara, troubled husband-and-wife Roger and Anna-Lena, expecting lesbian parents Julia and Ro, charming 80-year-old Estelle, and a near-naked man wearing a bunny head all have their reasons for showing up at an open house on New Year's Eve, even as an inept bank robber rushes in and inadvertently becomes a hostage taker. This situation attracts the attention of a bumbling father-and-son police team who emerge in the end as gentle heroes but are initially stymied upon leading the hostages to safety: The bank robber is not among them. Cutting back and forth in time, the tight-knit, surprise-filled narrative slowly unravels this mystery while revealing the poignant backstories of both hostages and hostage taker, even as rattled nerves lead to some very funny exchanges. Meanwhile, the story of a suicide wrought by economic extremis quietly frames the action, unexpectedly tying together characters, and the brisk, absorbing action prompts meditation on marriage, parenting, responsibility, and global economic pressures. VERDICT Comedy, drama, mystery, and social study, this novel is undefinable except for the sheer reading pleasure it delivers. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 2/24/20.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

A diverse assortment of Swedes gets caught in an unlikely hostage situation in Backman's witty, lighthearted romp (after Us Against You). On the day before New Year's Eve, in a "not particularly large or noteworthy town," a desperate parent attempts to rob a bank in order to provide for two young children. After the police arrive, the amateur stickup artist flees and stumbles into an apartment's open house. The attendees, including a heavily pregnant, first-time home-buying lesbian couple; an apartment-flipping older couple; and Zara, an executive at another bank, become hostages. Meanwhile, father and son police officers Jim and Jack scramble into action. The appearance of a man wearing nothing but underwear and a bunny mask, hired by the flippers to sabotage the open house, adds to the drama. Backman layers the hostage scene with threads of backstory on Zara's regret for denying a loan to a man ten years earlier, along with developments in Jack and Jim's investigation. While the prose is chockablock with odd metaphors ("Our hearts are bars of soap that we keep losing hold of") and a plot twist leans on societal assumptions, Backman charms with his empathetic description of the robber, who gradually earns sympathy from the hostages. This amusing send-up of contemporary Swedish society is worth a look. Agent: Tor Jonasson, Salomonsson Agency. (Sept.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Author Biography

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She&;s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, and Anxious People, as well as two novellas and one work of nonfiction. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter @BackmanLand and on Instagram @Backmansk. - (Simon and Schuster)


Taken hostage by a failed bank robber while attending an open house, eight anxiety-prone strangers--including a redemption-seeking bank director, two couples who would fix their marriages, and a plucky octogenarian--discover their unexpected common traits. - (Baker & Taylor)

Taken hostage by a failed bank robber while attending an open house, eight anxiety-prone strangers—including a redemption-seeking bank director, two couples who would fix their marriages and a plucky octogenarian—discover their unexpected common traits. 350,000 first printing. Tour. - (Baker & Taylor)

Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller

A People Book of the Week, Book of the Month Club selection, and Best of Fall in Good Housekeeping, PopSugar, The Washington Post, New York Post, Shondaland, CNN, and more!

&;[A] quirky, big-hearted novel&;Wry, wise, and often laugh-out-loud funny, it&;s a wholly original story that delivers pure pleasure.&; &;People

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove comes a charming, poignant novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

Looking at real estate isn&;t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can&;t fix their own marriage. There&;s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can&;t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment&;s only bathroom, and you&;ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them&;the bank robber included&;desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Rich with Fredrik Backman&;s &;pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature&; (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope&;the things that save us, even in the most anxious times. - (Simon and Schuster)

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