Fredrik Backman is a blogger and novelist born on June 2, 1981 in Helsingborg, Sweden. Before he published his first novel in 2012, Backman wrote for various publications, including Helsingborgs Dagblad and Moore Magazine. However, A Man Called Ove is the book that brought Backman into the literary spotlight.
Backman’s novel tells the story of Ove, a 59-year-old man who falls into depression after his wife has died. He proceeds to plan his own suicide, but his multiple attempts are always interrupted by his neighbor Parvaneh, an Iranian immigrant, and the rest of her family.
The character of Ove came to be when the author read a blog post that detailed a tantrum a grown man had while buying tickets at a museum. Backman’s wife read the post as well and said the man in the museum was reminiscent of Fredrik. As Backman told the New York Times, he is “not very socially competent and not great at talking to people. [His] wife tends to say [his] volume is always at 1 or 11, never in between.” Thus, Ove is heavily influenced by Backman’s own social interactions and everyday life.
When Backman send his manuscript to publishers, most turned him down, claiming that his novel had little commercial value. Despite the doubts of editors, A Man Called Ove became an international bestseller and has since been published in 38 languages. Over 2.8 million copies have been sold globally. In 2015, it was adapted into a Swedish film of the same name and was ultimately nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Since the release of Backman’s first novel, he has published two other books, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry (2013) and Britt-Marie Was Here (2014).