A thirty-nine-year-old bank robber held a pistol in his hand and headed towards a bank to rob it. However, his plans were thwarted, and he went into a building and took hostages in an apartment. However, little did he expect other people to be in the very same apartment he believed to be empty. What transpires next is a comical conversation between the bank robber and the police who came to rescue the captives. The author gives a vivid description of the life of each captive and their predicament in this situation. The book had been adapted into a Netflix comedy-drama series and became a hit. But of course, the book is much better.
About the Book:
Anxious People by the author Fredrik Backman is adept at portraying human emotions in a succulent manner. The story is about the eight hostages and how they open up slowly about the intricacies of their lives. The book also tells us the story of the two police officers who arrive at the scene and try to salvage the situation. They happen to be a father-son duo, where the son was newly appointed and the father was his subordinate. The book reveals the story of these men layer by layer. Though comical, it gives a glimpse of human behaviour under stressful conditions. The dialogue between the protagonists was great, and the life situations they faced painted a vivid picture of their current state of mind. The underlining theme the author tried to convey is the need to be compassionate and empathetic towards one another, as we never know what battles the other person is fighting in their lives.
The Plot of the Book:
A bank robbery gone awry makes the bank robber take eight people hostage in an apartment. As the identity of the bank robber is concealed, the others slowly open up about their lives and share their dark secrets with total strangers in an attempt to unburden themselves. The apartment balcony looks over a bridge and toward the outside world, where they yearn to be. The hostages are Roger, Anna-Lena, Zara, Julia, Nadia, Lennart, the realtor, Ro, and Estelle. Jack and Jim are the police duo who have been assigned this case. They try to communicate with the bank robber about letting the hostages go. However, their repeated appeals fall on deaf ears. Roger and Anna-Lena are a retired couple who are trying to salvage their marriage by fixing houses and love to shop at IKEA. Zara is a rich bank director who wants to right the wrong by visiting various homes to find out how ordinary people lead their lives. Estelle is an eighty-year-old woman who claims to have come to the apartment as a lookout for her daughter. Ro and Julia are the nervous lesbian couple and soon-to-be parents. Moreover, with all the drama going on both inside and outside the apartment, the bank robber has to decide whether he has to surrender to the police or stay inside the room with these different personalities and bear their constant cribbing. But the bank robber vanishes into thin air, successfully escaping the clutches of the police. How did he escape? What happens to the hostages? The story is a holistic one where the author deciphers each protagonist’s life in detail and makes it a wholesome read.
Zara: She runs a bank and is very prudent in giving loans to people. However, one event changed her life. Though aloof during the hostage situation, her remorse and the guilt she felt made her a changed woman for good. Her character is an important connection in the book and is a reminder as to how the financial system is abusing people and impacting lives.
Anna-Lena: She is a retired top analyst who worked for an industrial firm for years. She was overcome with guilt that her husband Roger sacrificed his career to take care of the family. She starts making amends to make Roger believe in his abilities. She was the first person to suggest helping the bank robber and was benevolent.
Roger: He is the husband of Anna-Lena and often feels that he isn’t good enough for her. He loves documentaries and feels that he has much to prove about his capabilities. He is a noble man, though he seems like an entitled person.
Estelle: She is an eighty-year-old widow who deeply misses her husband, Knut. She didn’t want to feel lonely, so she came on the pretext of viewing the apartment just to have company. She was very warm, kind, and full of advice for her fellow hostages.
About the Author:
Fredrik Backman is best known for his book “A Man Called Ove,” which is a massive hit among literary circles. The book Anxious People was also warmly received by the bibliophiles for the author’s style of writing and for mastering the art of deciphering human behaviour and emotions through easy yet complex stories that are sure to make you cry, laugh, and ponder for a long time. He has written several other books, and he has made a name for himself as his books have been published in more than forty countries across the globe. The author specialises in writing about the people we meet in our day-to-day lives and weaves a story that is sure to connect with the readers.
Fredrick Backman gives a fresh perspective to his readers and a deep insight into their rather mundane lives, which we tend to overlook. His perception and analysis of human nature are par excellence, and the way he connects and weaves the characters is masterful. The characters are relatable, and his vivid descriptions stay in the mind for a very long time. Overall, this is a book that is a page-turner and adds another jewel to the crown of the author’s literary works.