"The Moralists. How Swedes Learn From Mistakes and Other Stories”

„It is difficult to find a better guide to the changing Sweden than Katarzyna Tubylewicz. Her book „The Moralists” tells a story of a society that once choose a seemingly utopian value system and so far has consistently stuck to it. 

Can a society assume it is going to be good? Does contemporary Sweden collide with reality and it’s own limitations? Is there a risk that avoiding difficult topics and conflicts may lead to a huge eruption? The author’s choice of her interlocutors is extremely interesting, but her questions are even more thought-provoking. Tubylewicz simultaneously looks at Sweden from a distance and from the inside. She loves this country but she also clearly sees it’s pitfalls. This perspective together with her reporter skills makes it possible to universalize the Swedish experience and turn it into the one of the most important experiences of modernity.”

Agnieszka Holland

Katarzyna Tubylewicz is a vigilant and thorough observer of the reality surrounding us, sensitive to each and every aspect of it – she wisely chooses her interlocutors and takes a closer and attentive look at the protagonists of her reportage, many of which are average people with everything-but-average experience and background. Among the people Tubylewicz meets and talks to, there are, for instance, two refugee shelters’ female directors, a Polish doctor working in a Swedish hospital, a frank Swedish police officer born in Afghanistan, an art curator, who decided to become a funeral director, and a refugee from Syria, who learned Swedish already in Turkey.

Tubylewicz also talks with Sweden’s most prominent journalists, opinion makers and writers. Among the people she interviews, there are, for instance, journalist and reporter Maciej Zaremba, Ebba Witt-Brattström, feminist and professor of literature, the “Dagens Nyheter” newspaper reporter Niklas Orrenius, Jerzy Sarnecki, professor in criminology, a Left Party parliament member Amineh Kakabahev, who used to be a Kurdish freedom fighter (Peshmerga), an eminent writer Elisabeth Åsbrink, and Eva Brunne – a Church of Sweden bishop who is a lesbian and has a wife.

Many of Tubylewicz’s interlocutors express similar narration; they talk about an egalitarian state, in the borders of which a dream of becoming a moral superpower had once appeared. An attentive reader will notice many surprising things. One of them, for example, is that the deepest faith in so called Swedish values is present among the immigrants living in the country and it’s mostly them who are willing to openly talk about the problems and challenges that may appear in a multi-cultural society (and how to deal with them). Sweden in Tubylewicz’s eyes is quite far from being a calm, moderate lagom country; it is rather a very dynamic society, that deals with quite swiftly appearing radical and fascinating changes.