Fishing in Utopia, by Andrew Brown

Fishing in utopia I just visited Amazon, as, I have to admit, I often do. On the first page where they show you all these books you might want to read (where there are usually quite a few I find hard to resist), I spotted one which seemed at first glance to be an outlier. (By which I mean being offered a gardening book because you recently bought Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook.) The book concerned is called Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared, by Andrew Brown, published by Granta in May of this year. Here's the blurb:

From the 1960s to the 1980s, 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 1960s. In the 1970s 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-1980s his marriage and the country fell apart. The Prime Minister was assassinated. The welfare system crumbled along with the industries that had supported it. Twenty years later Andrew Brown travelled the length of Sweden in search of the country he had loved, and then hated, and now found he loved again.

I'm rather tempted by this, especially as it is only £6.99. It sounds as if it is an interesting link between where Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo leave us in the late 1970s, and the present day. Sjowall and Wahloo's 10-book series, an excellent set of detective novels, presents a strongly opinionated view of the social developments in Sweden over roughly 20 years, from the beginning of the 1960s to the end of the 1970s. As I've now only one book of the series left to read, Andrew Brown's opus might be a fascinating coda.

I am confirmed in my optimism by the leading Amazon review for the book, which is by Simon Clarke (no relation!), a regular commenter at this and other crime-fiction blogs. Simon (whose Amazon reviews are always a very helpful guide, I find) gives the book 5 stars and calls it a "wonderfully written, fascinating read".

7 thoughts on “Fishing in Utopia, by Andrew Brown

  1. I picked up a copy of this one during my recent trip to Sweden and read nearly half of it on the plane on the way home. A very interesting read so far. And there are even a couple of pages in it about Sjowall & Wahloo’s Martin Beck books. (Brown views Sweden in the 60s & 70s very differently than S & W.) I’m just behind you in my progress through that series, currently beginning book #8.

  2. I am going to buy this book as well, and have decided reading Petrona is definitely not good for my bank balance. ;O)
    Our trip to Sweden in the early 1990s was memorable in that there seemed to be so much space and so few people even in Stockholm and Upsaala. It was winter so perhaps they were all huddled round the fire at home.
    The Swedish Kroner was devalued by 25% the week after our visit so obviously all was not as marvelous as it looked.

  3. Maxine
    Thank you for your kind comments.
    Being Swedish ‘by blood’–I know I am
    biased in these matters–but I found Brown’s
    book–both sensitive and balanced and very well
    worth the read.

  4. From the blurb it looks to be a really good read. It reminds me of “A River Runs Through It” where fishing relates to life.

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