A timely and provocative debut novel that Rivka Galchen calls “wisely comic and tremendously moving,” about a creative writing teacher whose efforts to stay sober land him in Malmö, Sweden, where drugs are scarce but the refugee crisis forces a very different kind of reckoning.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO DO GOOD
Jonas Anderson wants a fresh start.
He’s made plenty of bad decisions in his life, and at age twenty-eight he’s been fired from yet another teaching position after assigning homework like, Visit a stranger’s funeral and write about it. But, he’s sure a move to Sweden, the country of his mother’s birth, will be just the thing to kick-start a new and improved—and newly sober—Jonas.
When he arrives in Malmo in 2015, the city is struggling with the influx of tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees. Driven by an existential need to “do good,” Jonas begins volunteering with an organization that teaches Swedish to young migrants. The connections he makes there, and one student in particular, might send him down the right path toward fulfillment—if he could just get out of his own way.
Such Good Work is a darkly comic novel, brought to life with funny, wry observations and searing questions about our modern world, told with equal measures of grace and wit.
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.