Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Page Count: 337 pages
Genre: Fiction, Humorous
Tone: Quirky, Character-focused
A curmudgeon hides a terrible personal loss beneath a cranky and short-tempered exterior while clashing with new neighbors, a boisterous family whose chattiness and habits lead to unexpected friendship.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement: 2016 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.
1. The title of the book is A Man Called Ove. How do you define masculinity or what makes a “man”?
2. If the author had used a woman as the lead character aka “A Woman Called Ovina”, would that have worked for you? Why or why not?
3. Do you recall the opening chapter (A man Called Ove buys a computer that is not a computer)? How did these few pages set your expectations for the novel?
4. Ove has several rants throughout the novel. Be honest, did you ever channel your inner Ove and find yourself agreeing with any of them? If so what resonated with you? Some examples of his rants: people driving in places clearly marked no cars allowed, the lanky one having such a hard time backing up his trailer, people paying everything on credit, and service charges for credit card purchases.
5. How do you feel about Backman’s use of alternating the present and past to tell the story? Do you think this is more or less effective than if he had told the story from a strictly chronological view?
6. An unfortunate character in Ove’s past was Tom. Tom stole and Ove took the fall. What did you think of Ove when he refused to name Tom as the thief??
7. Thanks to Tom, Ove was ultimately shifted to the night shift which is how he met Sonja. “All roads lead to something you were always pre-destined to do” (pg. 79). What do you think of this statement?
8. Ove is a completely honest man, yet when he first met Sonja he lied about himself. Why?
9. What drew Ove and Sonja to each other?
10. Sonja described loving someone, like moving into a house “At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you… over the years, the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection but rather for its imperfections”. What are your thoughts?
11. We learn that Sonja and Ove lose their unborn child. What kind of father do you believe Ove would have been?
12. What did you think of Ove’s visits with his wife?
13. If you were to have an “Ove” in your life, do you think he would be the type of person you could be married to or have as a friend?
14. Once Ove is forcibly retired, he plans to “retire” himself? Why do you think Ove wants to kill himself? Do his suicide attempts reconcile to the type of man he is?
15. What did you think about his various attempts?
16. What did you think about Ove’s relationship with Cat?
17. The driving force of the story is Ove’s relationship with Parvenah. What do you think drew Parvenah to Ove and vice-versa?
18. One of my favorite passages was discussing Ove and Sonja. He was a man of black and white and she was color, all the color he had. Yet when Nasanin drew him she drew everyone else in black and white and Ove in a rainbow of color. Parvenah said she always drew Ove that way. What do you think Backman was trying to say?
19. Backman discusses the rift in Ove and Rune’s friendship on pg. 245 “Maybe their sorrow over children that never came should have brought the two men closer. But sorrow is unreliable in that way. When people don’t share it there’s a good chance that it will drive them apart instead”. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
20. What do you think about the ending of the book?
21. What do you think of Ove’s persona at the beginning of the book versus his persona at the end of the book?
22. Fredrik Backman calls this book a fable. If that is true, what would the moral of this book be for you?
Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!
- Reading guide from Lit Lovers’
- A book club’s experience discussing Ove
- Interview with Fredrik Backman
- Books on the Table interview with Fredrik Backman
- BBC Radio 4 talks to Backman (audio)
- The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
- There Must Be Some Mistake by Frederick Barthelme
- The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass