I’ve just finished reading I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the autobiography of the Swedish football who currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain. It arrived in my possession accompanied much praise, not least the quote on the front cover from Guardian journalist, Richard Williams, who describes is as ‘the most compelling autobiography ever to appear under a footballer’s name.’ The book was shortlisted for the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, while it was also apparently an international best seller.
You may have already read the book and concur with Richard Williams’ description, or the judges of the Sports Book of the Year Award. If you haven’t read it, let me save you the bother … it’s not very good. To be fair, there is a level of honesty in Ibrahimovic’s account of a tough and troubled childhood, while the fact that Henrik Larsson is among the few people in football whom he actually likes does count in his favour, as far as I’m concerned.
However, tackling a book that reads as if the original text – in whatever language it was written in – has been put through Google Translate for the English version is extremely irritating, particularly when Zlatan is describing football matches that Zlatan is involved in, when Zlatan plays brilliantly to win the game single-handedly, whereupon Zlatan takes all the praise for the contribution Zlatan has made to the victory. Have I mentioned yet that Zlatan referring to himself in the third person is also annoying?
Like the overwhelming majority of autobiographies, football or otherwise, this book is typically egotistical and self-centred, which quickly becomes very tiresome. I’m actually amazed that I managed to finish the book. I’m not one of those people who, once they start a book, feel obliged to finish it even if I’m not enjoying. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Life is too short and there are too many good books, never mind great books still to read, to waste time on something that I’m not enjoying. So Zlatan should feel privileged that I managed to get to the last page, but I won’t be recommending it to anyone else … not that I would say that to his face. He sounds bonkers!
If you want to read a truly great autobiography, check out Arthur Miller’s Timebends, which is an engrossing book by a truly gifted writer, although I should declare that Miller has always been one of my heroes – he wrote Death of a Salesman AND he married Marilyn Monroe.
The hotly-anticipated new book, ‘Read All About It: My year of falling in love with literature’ by Paul Cuddihy is published soon.