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A fabulous novel

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, Atria Books, US $28.00, Pp 352, September 2020, ISBN 9781501160837

Fredrik Backman’s latest novel — Anxious People — is set in an apartment that is on sale and the realtor is holding an open house event for potential buyers. The door is not locked, and anybody can just walk in. Suddenly, an unwanted armed guest barges in and takes everyone present hostage. The armed man is looking for refuge after he failed to rob a nearby bank. His captives include a retired unhappy couple who has spent all their lives hiding their unhappiness. There is a banker who doesn’t care about anything or anybody except making money for his bank. Then there is a newly married couple who cannot agree on what name they should give to their first child. The 87-year old woman does not care if she is killed at the hands of the robber. The realtor hides himself in the bathroom and just wants to get out of there even if he fails to close the deal.

On the face of it, hostages may seem different from one another, they are one thing in common – they all carry lifelong grievances, they have their secrets and passions to hide, then they hidden hurts. Behind the happy faces, they are all unhappy inside. They all want to escape the real painful world. They all have their own anxieties. They have carried these anxieties all their lives. The anxiety of being hostage hardly matters for them. As the law-enforcers – followed by the media – close in, the hostages start revealing long hidden truths about their lives, unleashing a chain of unexpected happenings that catches everybody.

There are unexpected twists in the story, but everyone seems to have developed some sort of feeling for fellow hostages. Backman shows how shared anxiety can change how a group a people look at the world. Backman has deep understanding of human nature and tells us how sharing your anxieties can free you of them. It is another original and well-crafted story from Backman. It is a suspense-filled story that might break your heart. Packed with love and passion, it is an absolutely joy to read this novel. Everybody suffering from anxieties should read it – in other words, all of us should read it.

About the author

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called OveMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryBritt-Marie Was HereBeartownUs Against You, and two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime, as well as one work of nonfiction, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World. His books are published in more than forty countries. His latest novel, Anxious People, is an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.

(Author bios are normally provided by the publishers.)

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