Read this on the back of Wallander and the Stieg Larsson books, wanting to knowabout Sweden It s interesting and quite informative, but less about the country than about the rather troubled author A book that isthought provoking than expected, but the author ultimately is too introverted to provide great insights into Sweden But worth a read. The best line in the book is the description of cosmopolitan Stockholm as the place that Tony Blair wished he was Prime Minister of Lots of descriptions of fishing and anomie Since I don t fish, and don t speak Swedish, this gives me some idea of what will be left over for me when I move to Sweden next year. Looking for an outsider s opinion on a country I will soon visit intrigued me Well, beyond the very detailed descriptions of the beautiful landscapes, I took little else from this book I certainly don t share the author s passion for fishing nor did his writing captivate me enough to continue reading after about half way through the book He briefly describes Swedish history and some cultural aspects of the people of Sweden which might help in my travels but I found nothing else even slightly interesting The plot is weak and the writing is very reportive with an absence of voice I can t bring myself to waste the time finishing this one. I ve thought about moving to Sweden several times since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, but since I can t speak the language and learning it wasn t going to happen for me, the idea has remained a wistful fantasy.There was a Swedish librarian working in Nyeri , Kenya as part of an aid programme, when I was teaching at a rural school nearby in the fateful year of 1979.That was the beginning of the long arc of the ascendancy of neo liberalism in politics and economics which for a brief moment of naivety I thought might have ended in 1997 with the return of a Labour government but only finally crashed to the ground last year with the near collapse of the global financial system The Swedish librarian in Nyeri was fully funded by her government on a Swedish salary and pension whilst my colleagues and other European and American aid workers we knew in the area were either church sponsored or in volunteer schemes like Peace Corps, where the rewards wereof an intrinsic nature Our Swedish friend was in a different league of serious and professional development aid, and for me her presence confirmed the superiority of Sweden s altruistic commitment to world development by comparison with the lacklustre and ultimately self interested efforts of the British government.I ve never managed to visit Sweden An Anglican vicar with three children has other spending priorities, and the high prices were a serious deterrent In 1990 I was drawn sufficiently strongly by the attraction of Scandinavia in general however to acquiesce willing to family clamour to holiday in Denmark which was quite local as were living in Essex at the time Legoland was the lure for the children s sake this was before it appeared in Windsor and cruising on Scandinavian Seaways overnight was the highlight for us the parents It offered a far better experience than a cross channel ferry in terms of the facilities for children and not least important the all you can eat breakfast buffet of fish, cheeses, egg and cold meats and fresh bread in several varieties of grain Our first visit was for four nights only, two of them afloat, staying on a Danish farm, eating with the other guests and our hosts around the family table For all it s brevity it was a truly refreshing holiday and when we returned home we felt like we d been away for some weeks rather than an extended weekend On our second visit to Scandinavia though Denmark again a year or two later, driving a Swedish Volvo by this time, we hired bicycles and rode up one of the long flat Danish versions of a fjord to see the remains of a Viking burial mound Scandinavian street furniture with its quality and safety conscious design and the welcome given to children in cafes and restaurants children re confirmed our appreciation of the superiority of the social and political culture in Scandinavia It exposed for us the poverty of the public squalor private wealth culture that had grown up in Thatcher s Britain and blighted our years of having and raising young children on a limited income, as with each succeeding Thatcher led government another mainstay of welfare security was removed So it was with immediate interest that I landed on Andrew Brown s new book when I spotted it on display in Blackwell at Oxford Here is an Englishman who actually did move to Sweden, learned the language and lived there as if that was to be his life s future, marrying a Swedish woman and having a child there But disillusioned both with his family life and with the country as its flaws becameevident and it too began to succumb to the over whelming force of neo liberal dogma, Brown left for home, divorced his wife, and developed a career as a journalist and writer The book recounts also his return journeys to Sweden inrecent years and his rediscovery of a country he never really stopped loving.It is also a book about fishing Brown is passionate about this This is the main drawback of the book for me If you are interested in fishing there s probably too much about Swedish politics in it for you, and vice versa It is steeped in melancholy Feelings of loss are strongly conveyed, from the subtitle onwards But it is a compelling and lyrical book, well worth reading. From The S To The S, Sweden Was An Affluent, Egalitarian Country Envied Around The World Refugees Were Welcomed, Even Misfit Young Englishmen Could Find A Place There Andrew Brown Spent Part Of His Childhood In Sweden During The S In The S He Married A Swedish Woman And Worked In A Timber Mill Raising Their Small Son Fishing Became His Passion And His Escape In The Mid S His Marriage And The Country Fell Apart The Prime Minister Was Assassinated The Welfare System Crumbled Along With The Industries That Had Supported ItYears Later Andrew Brown Traveled The Length Of Sweden In Search Of The Country He Had Loved, And Then Hated, And Now Found He Loved Again Had to give up on this, although I wanted to read some Swedish travel writing, think that a fishing book was pushing it a bit I didn t actually know what to expect from this book, but for a large part, it was a pleasant surprise Being Swedish, and having spent most of my life in the area around Gothenburg, the places described Uddevalla, Lilla Edet, N dinge and so forth are very familiar and I share much of Brown s descriptions of Sweden s transformation from an idealist to a realist country with a new set of problems to tackle The one thing I did not appreciate were the tedious passages about fish, fishing and fishing gear Had Brown omitted or at least condensed all these sections, I would have rated the book with 4 stars I appreciated this book for its beautiful way to describe the Swedish nature and how he captures a feeling of the society that is pretty hard to explain It was interesting for me, as my mother moved to Sweden at the same time as Brown and it gave me the feeling of understanding some of the things she has experienced. What Sweden is and how it changed from 70s to 00s social democracy to individualism Smells, wilderness, lakes, concrete boxes of central Stockholm, pizza places run by Kurdish families in every town. An interesting perspective on Sweden.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future That Disappeared book, this is one of the most wanted Sophie Lewis author readers around the world.
- 272 pages
- Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future That Disappeared
- Sophie Lewis
- 21 July 2017 Sophie Lewis