From British daily The Morning Star:
The Sweden of then and now
(Sunday 20 July 2008)
Fishing in Utopia, by Andrew Brown
(Granta Books, £16.99)
ANDREW Brown‘s Fishing in Utopia is a quirky, eminently personal account that, in many ways, is far too impressionistic to give any focused understanding of the changes that Swedish society has undergone over the past few decades.
What Brown does do, however, is provide a series of first-hand accounts of the Sweden that he encountered some 30 years ago, a society which was proudly social democratic, civic-minded, sober and internationalist, if at times a little bit prim and socially conservative.
Today, though, it’s barely any different politically from other Western industrialised countries.
Brown is fairly elusive on where he stands about the path that Sweden has taken and his work on the Spectator, of all magazines, can’t really have helped in this respect. But there is plenty of material here that Morning Star readers will appreciate about the effects of introducing turbo-capitalism, rootless consumerism, spiralling levels of inequality and attacks upon the welfare state, an increase in crime levels and anti-social behaviour being among them.
Brown also has, despite some misgivings throughout his life, an evident love for Swedish people and their hauntingly beautiful environment. This book is worth looking at just for the fantastic passages on the country’s climate and landscape, literary gems in the best tradition of nature writing.
The subtitle of the book is Sweden and the Future that Disappeared.
As economic interests trump human rights, the idea of utopian Sweden becomes increasingly faint and fragmented: here.
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