Anxious People

Anxious People

Book - 2020
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This is a story about a hostage drama. But more than that, it's a story about idiots. That's why, from the very outset, I need to say that it is always very easy to declare people idiots, but only if you forget that it is also almost always idiotically difficult to be human. Anxious People is an unreasonably riotous comedy about a hostage drama during an open house that all begins when a failed bank robber locks himself in with six strangers who have come to view the apartment. In captivity we meet Roger and Anna-Lena, a recently retired couple who are on a manic hunt for fixer-uppers because they don't know how to fix their own marriage. They have the distinction of shopping at every Ikea in Sweden-and those are some of the most romantic moments they ever shared. Then there is Zara, a wealthy director of a bank who has never cared for poor people or their problems (and isn't shy about saying so). But when tragedy strikes in her life, she becomes addicted to visiting real-estate open houses to see how the middle-classes live - and possibly to find a suitable place to commit suicide. Julia and Danijela are a young lesbian couple with a newborn baby who can't agree on anything. Their opposite and idiosyncratic home preferences are making them increasingly anxious about their chances of spending a lifetime together. And Estelle, an eighty year-old woman who has lived long enough to be unimpressed by some bank robber waving a gun in her face. Despite the story she tells them all, Estelle hasn't really come to the apartment to view it for her daughter, and her husband really isn't outside parking the car. As police surround the premises and television channels are broadcasting live, the pressure of an increasingly tense situation mounts, causing each person to reveal more and more about themselves to each other. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people. In the end, the hostages are released, but when the police storm the apartment to capture the robber, it is ... empty. In a series of interviews afterwards, the witnesses all tell their version of what happened that day, whereupon it becomes clear to the police that one person is lying, and that none of the others are telling the whole truth. This is a story about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and a group of very anxious people who experience the same events in wildly different ways.
Publisher: Toronto : Simon & Schuster Canada, ©2020.
ISBN: 9781982121600
Characteristics: 341 pages ;,23 cm.
Additional Contributors: Smith, Neil (Neil Andrew), - Translator


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May 05, 2021

Recommended by Ellen May ‘21

May 02, 2021

Oh boy some of you fans may not like this review but I hope to save at least one person a couple of hours. Very annoying writing style - felt stupid reading it. Just could not feel connected to this scattered and ridiculous storyline. I saw all of the glowing reviews and was excited to experience a new and highly recommended author. Not so - extremely disappointed. I never give up on a book but this one was just so silly and child like that after 100 pages in I was seriously considering returning it without finishing. Instead I “skimmed” ahead and picked up bits and pieces along the way (again not something I have ever done). It was enough to see that the same nonsense continued throughout. The ending, while it ties the crazy story together, made me feel even more desperate to dump this book. Depressing. I went back through the older reviews of others and see now, too late, that this would not be recommended as an introduction to the works of this author. I think if I need to “build up” a tolerance to the writer’s style it is a pass for me. Once burned, twice shy. On a positive note, gotta love our freedom of choice and library access to such wide and varying literature options.

Apr 26, 2021


Apr 18, 2021

I’m an unabashed fan of author Fredrik Backman and have read nearly all his books. But I must admit I wasn’t immediately captivated by ANXIOUS PEOPLE. It wasn’t until I was a third of the way into it that its charm took hold of me, and I was hooked. What begins as a seeming hodgepodge of complicated characters, isolated events, and a shifting timeline, all comes together in a very satisfying way at the end. The story is a thought-provoking mix of the serious and the absurd, the tragic and the comical, told as only Fredrik Backman can. Ultimately, ANXIOUS PEOPLE is about human connection and the impacts people can have on each other. I highly recommend it.
PLEASE NOTE: If you aren’t familiar with Backman and his writing style, I join others in suggesting you NOT start with this book, but first try one of his other works, like A MAN CALLED OVE.

Apr 11, 2021

Best book ever! Absolutely loved this book from the beginning till the end. In Backman’s Anxious People, tells the story how people in society are more connected than they think. This book was extremely hilarious. After 2020, this was the kind of read we all need.

Apr 11, 2021

If you have never read Backman, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this offering. Start with .....Ove or My Grandmother......This is a complex tale of Ying and Yang of the human condition complete with a cast of quirky characters that one would expect from his style of writing. He’s been called the John Irving of Sweden. Excellent comparison although Backman can certainly stand on his own laurels.

Mar 28, 2021

There's a lot going on in this book. Overall, it's an exciting, surprising read with some good nuggets of wisdom.

Mar 26, 2021

This is a great read but also one of the hardest of all his books. His stories never follow a straight plot line and with all the characters, the time line changes and the character back stories, while you're entertained, you might also be getting a headache. Start with one of his early books before you dive into this one.

Mar 25, 2021

I loved reading “anxious people!” The author skillfully created 10 believable characters, building layers of complexity to each character, as the book progressed. I finish this book several days ago and still find my mind engaged with it; this is completely unlike me. I read a book to escape into a story and once finished, normally, I don’t give it another thought. Not so with this book. It kept me turning the pages. This is more than a who-did-it kind of book. If you enjoy this book as much as I did, you will be in for a delightful treat.

Mar 22, 2021

This book is an absolute treasure. I don’t think I can quite describe why as eloquently as some previous comments. But when I finished the book, I was sad it was over and yet so thankful I had read it! I can see how Backman’s writing may not be everyone’s cup of tea: for a plot about a bank robbery/hostage situation, it was not edge-of-your-seat entertainment. It was so much more though. I loved getting to know each character. Backman is gifted in creating imperfect, broken characters that you can’t help but root for. The storyline and every person’s part is woven together so beautifully. I laughed, I cried, and I would read it all over again.

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Apr 18, 2021

“They say that a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn’t true, at least not entirely, because if our past was all that defined us, we’d never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.” - p. 324

Apr 18, 2021

“Nothing is easier for people who never do anything themselves than to criticize someone who actually makes an effort.” - p. 209

Apr 18, 2021

“Expensive restaurants have bigger gaps between the tables. First class on airplanes has no middle seats. Exclusive hotels have separate entrances for guests staying in suites. The most expensive thing you can buy in the most densely populated places on the planet is distance.” - p. 94

Apr 18, 2021

“The truth of course is that if people really were as happy as they look on the Internet, they wouldn’t spend so much damn time on the Internet, because no one who’s having a really good day spends half of it taking pictures of themselves. Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit.” - p. 57

Apr 18, 2021

“Because that was a parent’s job: to provide shoulders. Shoulders for your children to sit on when they’re little so they can see the world, then stand on when they get older so they can reach the clouds, and sometimes lean against whenever they stumble and feel unsure.” - p.22

Apr 18, 2021

“We don't have a plan, we just do our best to get through the day, because there'll be another one coming along tomorrow.” - p. 2

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