Novel Approach: Fredrik Backman's latest novel offers idiots, bridges and more in 'Anxious People'

“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.” —Joseph Fort Newton

With so many things to do in a day, how does anyone handle all the anxiety-inducing responsibilities of adulthood? How do we manage to work and pay bills and raise children and act like functional people all the time when there is so much else to deal with at any given moment? Our latest read does not have the answer to that question but it does examine it rather closely as readers observe a bridge and a hostage situation set in an apartment viewing in a Swedish town.

Readers please note that this book often discusses suicide and features characters who have experienced suicidal thoughts as such this book could be potentially triggering for some readers.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Bestselling author Fredrik Backman’s latest novel takes readers through a charming and funny tale of a botched attempted bank robbery, a puzzling hostage situation and a bridge. From the very first page the reader is taken along a surprising series of twists and turns as a pair of police officers try to locate a bank robber who disappeared after releasing hostages from an apartment viewing.

However, while the story is about a police investigation into a hostage situation, the story is much more than that. Backman’s clever novel weaves together the lives of several strangers through a story about a bridge. “Anxious People” is a compelling read as Backman brilliantly sprinkles the novel with clashing personalities, grief and the various mistakes made by a slew of idiots that brought them to this point.

This beautifully empathetic story explores suicide and the obstacles that can lead people to make poor choices or the complicated systems in place that leave people feeling trapped in negative situations. “Anxious People” is a lighthearted tale that will leave readers not knowing where the next page will take them.

From the book jacket…

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

If you enjoy…

Readers who enjoy Backman’s writing might also enjoy his novel “The Man Called Ove,” which follows a cranky neighbor. Those looking for more of a mystery might also enjoy “Things in Jars” by Jess Kidd as a detective looks into the kidnapping of a nobleman’s secret child.