Such Good Work

Honoree, 5 Under 35 2019

ISBN 9781501195648
Simon & Schuster
Johannes Lichtman

Johannes Lichtman was born in Stockholm and raised in California. He holds an MFA in fiction from University of North Carolina Wilmington and an MA in literature, culture, and media from Lund University. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

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, Attend 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, indeed, a bit Jonas-like: it’s wary of affectation or grandstanding; it works small, as if from a sense of modesty, a reluctance to presume; it cuts sincerity with the driest of humor” (The New Yorker). In his debut, Lichtman, “a remarkable thinker and social satirist” (New York Times Book Review), spins a darkly comic story, brought to life with wry observations and searing questions about our modern world, and told with equal measures of grace and wit.

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