Simon & Schuster/ Literary Fiction/ 304 pages/ February 2019
About the book: Jonas Anderson might be an excellent teacher if he weren’t addicted to drugs. Instead, at age twenty-eight, he’s been fired from yet another creative writing position after assigning homework like, visit a stranger’s funeral and write about it.
Jonas needs to do something drastic and, as a dual American-Swedish citizen, he knows Sweden is an easy place to be a graduate student and a difficult place to be a drug addict. The year is 2015 when he arrives in Malmö, a city trying to cope with the arrival of tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees. Driven by an existential need to “do good,” Jonas volunteers with an organization that teaches Swedish to the desperate and idling young refugees. But one young man, Aziz, will force Jonas to question whether “doing good” can actually help another person.
My take on it:
This is a compelling read, and it’s not because the protagonist, Jonas, is charming and what one would call “easy to like,” but because his on his own journey of self discovery and struggles with sobriety continents apart.
What the author succeeds in portraying is how flawed people can be in their thoughts and intentions, and we see this through Jonas’ eyes and as he travels from the US to Sweden and finds himself at Malmo, teaching refugees Swedish.
The pace is great and for someone who is from another continent and a fan of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the mention of his name alone was enough for me to take a liking to this book :-). So, here’s to Netgalley, thanks for the eARC, I can’t wait to hear what other readers would have to say on this debut, it’s earned my approval, and I know it’ll charm them too.
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About the author:
Johannes Lichtman was born in Stockholm and raised in California. He holds an MFA in fiction from UNC Wilmington and an MA in literature, culture, and media from Lund University. His work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Los Angeles Review of Books, Oxford American, The Sun, Sydsvenskan, and elsewhere. He lives in Portland and Ukraine. Such Good Work is his first novel. Visit his website for more: https://www.johanneslichtman.com/