Anxious People by Fredrik Backman #AnxiousPeople #FredrikBackman @Backmanland #BookReview #BookClub

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Originally published: 2020 (This edition August 2021)

Author: Fredrik Backman

Published by: Penguin

Genre: Humorous Fiction

Length: 416 pages

Reading dates: 23-26 April 2022

The Shoreham by Sea book club are following the Chichester Libraries Reading Challenge this year and the choice for April was a translated book. We always make suggestions and then vote (I always try and choose something off my TBR) and my choice Anxious People was the winner! I read A Man Called Ove twice (which is almost unheard of for me as we read it for book club back in 2016) and loved it so was keen to read another book by Backman.

It’s New Year’s Eve and House Tricks estate agents are hosting an open viewing in an up-market apartment when an incompetent bank robber rushes in and politely takes everyone hostage.

For Anna-Lena and Roger, busy buying-up apartments to fill the hole in their marriage, it’s something else to talk about.

For Julia and Ro, panicky parents-to-be, it’s yet another worry.

Lonely bank manager Zara only came here for the view.

While 87-year-old grandmother Estelle seems rather pleased by the company . . .

As the police gather outside, the anxious strangers huddled within try to make the best of a very sticky situation – but could it be that they have a whole lot more in common than meets the eye?

We always come up with a score out of 10 and a word to describe the book at the beginning of our book club meeting and for me that word was “unexpected”. Anxious People is a book with many characters and Backman manages to capture each one, along with their hopes and fears and I felt I knew each and every character intimately.

Most of the action takes place inside the apartment where the group are viewing a flat when a bank robber runs in, and trapped with police outside, reluctantly takes the group hostage. The bank robber is desperate, on the cusp of being homeless after a messy divorce with the probability of loosing access to their children. As the book starts, the hostage crisis is actually over, the hostages are back at the police station, waiting to be interviewed by the police and the bank robber has inexplicably disappeared, despite the only way out being guarded.

The book is told in different narratives – sometimes it feels like the author is talking to us directly, using a lot of observational humour and asking us questions. Then we hear from the characters themselves. And finally we read transcripts of police interviews, where the hostages are being deliberately difficult in helping the police identify and capture the bank robber.

The reason I used the word unexpected? Well actually there are two. The first was the direction the story took – there were several points that things happened that I hadn’t expected or where there were revelations about a character that surprised me. The other thing that was unexpected for me was how emotional the book made me feel several times – it caught me completely unawares.

I loved this book but it divided book club which always makes for an interesting discussion. Several members felt the same as me and really enjoyed it, while there were a couple of people who just didn’t enjoy it at all, finding the characters annoying. We did all agree however that the translation by Neil Smith was outstanding!

But for me it was a wonderful book full of humour and emotion which touches on all aspects of life – marriage, parenthood, love, death and grief. I enjoyed it so much and if you loved Ove, I’m sure you’ll love this too. Now to work my way through the rest of Backman’s backlist…where should I start?

About the author:

Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, and two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime, as well as one work of nonfiction, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World. His books are published in more than forty countries. Anxious People was published in September 2020. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.



  1. I loved this one! I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read by him. He’s fantastic. If you’re looking to get caught up, I suggest The Scandal, followed by Us Against Them. They are book one and two in a series dealing with a little town and there’s a third one due this year.


  2. Start with My Grandmother, then Britt-Marie, then Beartown, then Us Against You. Don’t forget his two novellas as well (A Deal of a Lifetime, and Every Morning…), or his memoir “Things My Son Needs to Know About the World”!

    Liked by 1 person

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