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  • Published: 1 November 2022
  • ISBN: 9781405937832
  • Imprint: Michael Joseph
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 96
  • RRP: $22.99

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

From the New York Times bestselling author of Anxious People


There’s a hospital room at the end of a life where someone, right in the middle of the floor, has pitched a green tent. A person wakes up inside it, breathless and afraid, not knowing where he is. A young man sitting next to him whispers:

“Don’t be scared.”

Isn’t that the best of all life’s ages, an old man thinks as he looks at his grandchild. When a boy is just big enough to know how the world works but still young enough to refuse to accept it. Noah’s feet don’t touch the ground when his legs dangle over the edge of the bench, but his head reaches all the way to space, because he hasn’t been alive long enough to allow anyone to keep his thoughts on Earth. His grandpa is next to him and is incredibly old, of course, so old now that people have given up and no longer nag him to start acting like an adult. So old that it’s too late to grow up. It’s not so bad either, that age.

The bench is in a square; Noah blinks heavily at the sunrise beyond it, newly woken. He doesn’t want to admit to Grandpa that he doesn’t know where they are, because this has always been their game: Noah closes his eyes and Grandpa takes him somewhere they’ve never been before. Sometimes the boy has to squeeze his eyes tight, tight shut while he and Grandpa change buses four times in town, and sometimes Grandpa just takes him straight into the woods behind the house by the lake. Sometimes they go in the boat, often for so long that Noah falls asleep, and once they’ve made it far enough Grandpa whispers “open your eyes” and gives Noah a map and a compass and the task of working out how they’re going to get home. Grandpa knows he ’ll always manage, because there are two things in life in which Grandpa’s faith is unwavering: mathematics and his grandson. A group of people calculated how to fly three men to the moon when Grandpa was young, and mathematics took them all the way there and back again. Numbers always lead people back.

But this place lacks coordinates; there are no roads out, no maps lead here.

Noah remembers that Grandpa asked him to close his eyes today. He remembers that they crept out of Grandpa’s house and he knows that Grandpa took him to the lake, because the boy knows all the sounds and songs of the water, eyes open or not. He remembers damp wood underfoot as they stepped into the boat, but nothing after that. He doesn’t know how he and Grandpa ended up here, on a bench in a round square. The place is strange but everything here is familiar, like someone stole all the things you grew up with and put them into the wrong house. There’s a desk over there, just like the one in Grandpa’s office, with a mini calculator and squared notepaper on top. Grandpa whistles gently, a sad tune, takes a quick little break to whisper:

“The square got smaller overnight again.”

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer Fredrik Backman

A moving portrait of an elderly man's struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, from the internationally bestselling author of A Man Called Ove

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