Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Historical fiction, humour, satire
First published: 2013
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Synopsis: On June 14, 2007, the king and the prime minister of Sweden went missing from a gala banquet at the royal castle. Later it was said that both had fallen ill, but the truth is different.
The real story starts much earlier, in 1961, with the birth of Nombeko Mayeki in a shack in Soweto. Nombeko was fated to grow up fast and die early in her poverty-stricken township, be it from drugs, alcohol, or just plain despair. But Nombeko takes a different path. She finds work as a housecleaner and eventually makes her way up to the position of chief advisor, at the helm of one of the world’s most secret projects.
I have now read 3 of Jonas Jonasson’s books and each one is a delight. I listened to this on audiobook and the narration was amazing. It’s narrated by Peter Kenny and I believe he narrates all of Jonasson’s books, so I am confident in recommending any of his books in audiobook format.
I’m not sure where to start reviewing this book. It’s funny. It’s really funny. It’s self aware and takes neither itself, nor anything else too seriously. Jonasson has a gift for making light of awfulness without being disrespectful or in any way lessening the awfulness. Instead, he calls it out with good-natured humour. A good section of this book takes place in South Africa during the Apartheid regime. So it deals with some pretty awful stuff. But it manages to do so in a way that is both funny and educational.
The way that this book is written, and the way that all his books are written, gives it this cartoon-like air. That’s the best way I can describe it. You know when there’s this one character and there’s absolute madness going on around them… actually, I’m just going to use a gif to illustrate this for you.
That is the feel of the story. There’s always insane stuff going on and Nombeko somehow, defying all common sense, gets out of it unscathed. Which is so entertaining. I love that quality that his books have.
The characters are either very stupid… which is always funny, or have the kind of bone dry, needle sharp wit that I live for. I am here for it. I love it. And obviously when you combine the really stupid with the really acerbic, dry, the best results are obtained.
I don’t know what else to tell you about this book. Go read it. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s brilliant social commentary. If any of those things sound like your cup of tea, you’ll probably love this.