“A remarkable thinker. ”—THE NEW YORK TIMES
Such Good Work
2019 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Selection
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, Attend a stranger’s funeral. 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” (The 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.
“Lichtman [is] a remarkable thinker and social satirist…Such Good Work introduces a writer who is willing to openly contradict himself, to stand corrected, to honor both men and women, to ask sincere questions and let them ring unanswered.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES
“Such Good Work is...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
“[Lichtman] has written a likeable, funny and thoughtful book...Such Good Work gets to the heart of what it means to have a conscience.”—THE ECONOMIST
“Such Good Work is one of the best — one of the most beautifully written, one of the most thoughtful — novels I’ve read in the past several years.” —GARTH GREENWELL, NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION 5 UNDER 35 CITATION
“The novel answers its primary question, Is doing good even possible?, with significant emotional honesty, and Lichtman's clear and accessible writing allows readers to explore its complex topics at many levels.”—BOOKLIST
“[An] excellent and timely debut. Lichtman expertly infuses his multicontinental narrative with humor and humanity…[Jonas'] heartfelt actions stick with the reader in this winning novel.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Lichtman's low-key treatment of two highly charged subjects is refreshing.”—KIRKUS REVIEWS
“[A] wise and funny debut novel…[that] explores what it means to do the good work of being human.”—NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS
“A fresh look at Sweden…human and empathetic…Johannes Lichtman's storytelling is above all honest.”—DAGENS NYHETER (Sweden's largest newspaper)
“I honestly can't think of a novel I would more want to be reading in the very particular now of our world…Wisely comic and tremendously moving.”—RIVKA GALCHEN
"Johannes Lichtman has given us a powerful, unsparingly honest portrayal of a soul in torment, trying to find his way to a decent life."—BEN FOUNTAIN
“This book is funny, wise, finely paced, and attentive to its every sound. I can't stop thinking about it.”—SARAH MANGUSO
Johannes Lichtman was born in Stockholm and raised in California. He was named a 5 Under 35 recipient by the National Book Foundation in 2019. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, The Sun, Travel + Leisure, Los Angeles Review of Books, Oxford American, LitHub, and elsewhere. Such Good Work is his first novel.
w/ Peter C. Baker
MAY 7 MIAMI 8:00 p.m.
National Book Foundation
Miami Book Fair 5 Under 35 Reading
w/Anelise Chen, Isabella Hammad, Bryan Washington,
and Ashley Wurzbacher
APRIL 24 SAN LUIS OBISPO
Cal Poly Reading Series
NOVEMBER 18 NEW YORK 7:30 p.m.
National Book Foundation
5 Under 35 Ceremony
w/Garth Greenwell, Brandon Hobson, Viet Thanh Nguyen,
Dana Spiotta, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and honorees
OCTOBER 24 WILMINGTON 7:00 p.m.
University of North Carolina Wilmington
The Kenan Distinguished Professor Reading Series
JULY 21 PORTLAND 7:00 p.m.
Future Tense Books Summer Park Reading
Irving Park w/Kevin Sampsell, Felicity Fenton,
Raveena Bhalara, and Tom De Beauchamp
MARCH 19 LUTSK, UKRAINE 6:30 p.m
вул. Набережна 42
FEB 19 PORTLAND 7:30 p.m.
Powell's City of Books
1005 W. Burnside St.
FEB 12 SAN DIEGO 7:30 p.m.
The Book Catapult
3010 Juniper St.
FEB 7 SAN FRANCISCO 7:30 p.m.
Green Apple Books on the Park
1231 9th Ave.
FEB 5 LOS ANGELES 7:30 p.m.
Such Good Work release
1818 N. Vermont Ave.
NOV 27 STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN 7:00 p.m.
w/Lena Andersson, Karin Smirnoff, and more
NOV 20 GÄVLE, SWEDEN 4:00 p.m.
Något måste beslutas med Stig Dagermansällskapet
Högskolan i Gävle w/Bengt Söderhall
NOV 19 STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN 6:00 p.m.
Från början till bok – dags att debutera
Gamla stans bokhandel w/Agneta Liljeqvist & Andrev Walden