Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A failed bank robber's hostage situation leads to an unexpected and heartwarming connection between a group of strangers.


"Anxious People" by Fredrik Backman is a captivating novel that delves into the lives of a group of individuals brought together by a peculiar bank robbery. Through humor, warmth, and insight, Backman explores the complexities of human connection, empathy, and the impact of our past experiences on our present actions. Set in a small town in Sweden, the story unfolds in an apartment viewing that turns into a hostage situation, leading to a series of unexpected and heartwarming events.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview

The story revolves around a failed bank robber who, in a state of panic, ends up at an apartment viewing. He takes the attendees hostage, and as the situation unfolds, it becomes clear that each of them carries their own burdens and secrets. The novel weaves together the stories of these individuals, offering a poignant exploration of human behavior and the power of compassion.


The narrative unfolds in the fictional town of Beartown, a small, tight-knit community in Sweden. The story primarily takes place within the confines of an open house viewing for an apartment, which serves as the backdrop for the unfolding events.

Main Characters

The novel features a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique quirks and complexities. Here are some of the main characters:

JackA troubled bank robber who inadvertently becomes the catalyst for the apartment hostage situation.
Sonja and EstelleA mother-daughter real estate team conducting the apartment viewing.
Ro and JuliaA young couple attending the apartment viewing, grappling with personal and relationship struggles.
ZaraA senior citizen with a colorful past, offering wisdom and humor in the face of adversity.
Anna-GretaAn elderly woman with a compassionate and perceptive nature, providing a comforting presence amidst the chaos.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-5: The Apartment Viewing

The novel opens with a failed bank robbery, leading the perpetrator, Jack, to seek refuge in an apartment viewing. Unbeknownst to him, the attendees become unwitting hostages, setting the stage for an unconventional and heartwarming tale of human connection.

Chapter 6-10: Unraveling Backstories

As the hostages grapple with the situation, their individual stories and struggles come to light. Each character's past experiences and current challenges are revealed, shedding light on the complexities of their lives.

Chapter 11-15: Unexpected Bonds

Amidst the tension and uncertainty, the hostages form unexpected bonds and find solace in each other's shared humanity. Their interactions lead to moments of humor, empathy, and profound insights about life and love.

Chapter 16-20: Resolutions and Revelations

As the situation reaches its climax, secrets are unveiled, and the characters find closure, forgiveness, and newfound hope. The novel explores themes of redemption, second chances, and the transformative power of empathy.

Main Events

  • Failed bank robbery leads to a hostage situation at an apartment viewing.
  • The hostages share their personal stories and struggles, forging unexpected connections.
  • Revelations and resolutions emerge as the situation reaches its peak, leading to moments of redemption and hope.

Themes and Insights


  1. Human Connection: The novel underscores the profound impact of human connection and empathy, highlighting the transformative power of understanding and compassion.
  2. Second Chances: It explores the theme of redemption and second chances, emphasizing the potential for growth and healing even in the face of past mistakes and regrets.
  3. Resilience: The characters navigate personal challenges with resilience, demonstrating the capacity to overcome adversity and find hope amidst difficult circumstances.


  • The novel offers insights into the complexities of human behavior, delving into the layers of emotions, motivations, and vulnerabilities that shape our interactions and decisions.
  • It provides a nuanced portrayal of the ways in which individuals navigate grief, loss, and the search for meaning in their lives, resonating with universal experiences of struggle and perseverance.

Reader's Takeaway

"Anxious People" offers readers a poignant and heartwarming exploration of human connection, empathy, and the resilience of the human spirit. Through its richly drawn characters and insightful narrative, the novel invites readers to reflect on the complexities of life, the power of compassion, and the enduring capacity for hope and healing.


In "Anxious People," Fredrik Backman masterfully crafts a narrative that celebrates the messiness of human relationships, the beauty of unexpected connections, and the redemptive nature of empathy. Through its humor, warmth, and profound insights, the novel leaves a lasting impression, reminding readers of the enduring power of compassion and the resilience of the human heart.

Anxious People FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Anxious People'?

    Anxious People is a contemporary fiction novel.

  2. Who is the author of 'Anxious People'?

    Fredrik Backman is the author of 'Anxious People'.

  3. What is the plot of 'Anxious People'?

    The book follows a bank robber who takes hostages during a failed bank robbery and the ensuing investigation that reveals surprising connections between the hostages.

  4. Is 'Anxious People' a bestseller?

    Yes, 'Anxious People' has been a bestseller and has received critical acclaim.

  5. Does 'Anxious People' have humor in it?

    Yes, the book has a blend of humor and serious themes, making it a heartwarming and engaging read.