On the 14th of June 2007, the King of Sweden disappears. In 1994 South Africa dismantles six missiles developed during its brief nuclear weapons programme. In 1961 Nombeko Mayeki is born in a Soweto shack. Seemingly destined for a life nasty, brutish and short, her path takes an entirely unpredictable turn. Because really this story is all about the seventh South African missile - the one that was never supposed to have existed. The one that Nombeko knows far too much about.
Now she is on the run from the world’s most ruthless secret service, with three Chinese sisters, twins who are officially one person and an elderly potato farmer. Oh, and the fate of the King of Sweden – and the world – rests on her shoulders.
There is an inverse correlation between how much I like books and how well I review them. I really, really liked The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, but here goes anyway.
James Herriot, Jasper Fforde, Bill Bryson, Janet Evanovich; what do these authors all have in common? They make me laugh out loud. Continuously. Today, a new author has been placed among those hallowed ranks, and his name is Jonas Jonasson!
I came across this book at the end of 2020, when I was going through books to buy on Amazon (because collecting books and reading them are two very separate hobbies). The blurb on the back caught my attention, and I made a choice I have congratulated myself for ever since.
This book is bonkers!
It is also 432 pages long. But I only found that out after I had finished reading it; It was that good. If you are a fan of funny bordering on (and sometimes in) farcical, then this book is just for you.
Over the 432 pages, I found myself reading about a girl from Soweto who ended up in Sweden by way of Pretoria and a nuclear facility. Along the way she deals with happy-go-lucky Chinese sisters, Mossad agents, a man who doesn’t exist and of course, the aforementioned King of Sweden.
Not to mention the nuclear bomb.
I’ll stop there. But just know that this is only the tip of the iceberg. What I can say is that reading The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden will require you to suspend disbelief for a few hundred pages, but I promise you’ll be laughing out loud every second of it!
I’ll end with three musings:
Kudos to Rachel Willson-Broyles for a fantastic translation!
Jonas Jonasson has four other books out and I plan to read each and every one of them!
CBS Films and Gary Sanchez Productions are currently working on adapting Jonas Jonasson’s first book, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. Will Ferrell will star in it, of course.
If you require logic in your books, this might not be for you. But if you're looking for lots of laughs and abs of steel, this is your book!