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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman, a Swedish writer, captured the attention of the publishing world when he released his first novel, A Man Called Ove. Then one year later in 2013, he put out My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Both are complicated yet beautiful portraits of people connecting at opposite ends of life.

In My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, an eccentric, youthful grandmother (Granny) and a clever, wise almost-eight-year-old (Elsa), make for the perfect duo, especially when they create imaginative worlds. The Land of Almost Awake, perhaps initially created to help Elsa sleep, is accessible via cloud animals and is filled with fairy tales and characters with elaborate (often-true) backstories.

I love how Backman can be both playful and deep and transition between fantastical and stunningly realistic scenes with grace. He drops bits of wisdom throughout his tale, and I’ve underlined most of them. Here are a few articles and more than a few quotes I had to hold on to:



It’s difficult to say for sure whether Granny is a bit odd because she’s spent too much time in Miamas, or Miamas is a bit off because Granny’s spent too much time there. But this is the source of all Granny’s amazing, monstrous, magical fairy tales.
— Fredrik Backman
But Miamas is Granny and Elsa’s favorite kingdom, because there storytelling is considered the noblest profession of all. The currency there is imagination; instead of buying something with coins, you buy it with a good story. Libraries aren’t known as libraries but as ‘banks,’ and every fairy tale is worth a fortune.
— Fredrik Backman
A normal story can either be funny or sad or exciting or scary or dramatic or sentimental, but a Christmas tale has to be all those things. ‘A Christmas tale has to be written with every pen you own,’ Granny used to say. And they have to have happy endings, which is something that Elsa has decided completely on her own.
— Fredrik Backman
Elsa remembers how Granny always said that ‘the best stories are never completely realistic and never entirely made-up.’
— Fredrik Backman
To Granny, there was nothing that was entirely one thing or another. Stories were completely for real and at the same time not.
— Fredrik Backman
All fairy stories take their life from the fact of being different. ‘Only different people change the world,’ Granny used to say. ‘No one normal has ever changed a crapping thing.’
— Fredrik Backman
One day at a time. One dream at a time. And one could say it’s right and one could say it’s wrong. And probably both would be right. Because life is both complicated and simple. Which is why there are cookies.
— Fredrik Backman
People have to tell their stories, Elsa. Or they suffocate.
— Fredrik Backman
You have to believe. Granny always said that. You have to believe in something in order to understand the tales. ‘It’s not important what exactly you believe in, but there’s got to be something, or you amy as well forget the whole damned thing.’


And maybe in the end that’s what everything, all of this, is about.
— Fredrik Backman
Writing, BooksKelly Chase