almost perfect people book
Competition time as The Dabbler offers you the chance to win a free copy of The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth…
As heard on Book of the Week, BBC Radio 4

The whole world wants to learn the secrets of Nordic exceptionalism: why are the Danes the happiest people in the world, despite having the highest taxes? If the Finns really have the best education system, how come they still think all Swedish men are gay? Are the Icelanders really feral? How are the Norwegians spending their fantastical oil wealth? And why do all of them hate the Swedes?

Michael Booth has lived among the Scandinavians, on and off, for over ten years, perplexed by their many strange paradoxes and character traits and equally bemused by the unquestioning enthusiasm for all things Nordic that has engulfed the rest of the world, whether it be for their food, television, social systems or chunky knitwear.

In this timely book he leaves his adopted home of Denmark and embarks on a journey through all five of the Nordic countries to discover who these curious tribes are, the secrets of their success and, most intriguing of all, what they think of each other. Along the way a more nuanced, often darker picture emerges of a region plagued by taboos, characterised by suffocating parochialism and populated by extremists of various shades.

They may very well be almost nearly perfect, but it isn’t easy being Scandinavian.

Thanks to our friends at Jonathan Cape we’ve got 4 copies of The Almost Nearly Perfect People to give away at random to members of the Dabbler Book Club who like our Dabbler Facebook page and then share the ‘Perfect People’ post to their friends – you can enter here.

 



  1. George on Wednesday 26, 2014

    Does it include the full words to “Ten thousand Swedes ran through theweeds/Chased by one Norwegian”? And who has unquestioning enthusiasm for their food? I thought it formed one of the major grievances that brought on the Sicilian Vespers. It is true that the Swedes have shipped over to the US quantities of oddly boxy or bulbous cars, which have had quite a vogue in one or two strata of society.

    • Worm on Wednesday 26, 2014

      Finland, Finland, Finland,
      The country where I quite want to be,
      Your mountains so lofty,
      Your treetops so tall.
      Finland, Finland, Finland.
      Finland has it all.

      • George on Wednesday 26, 2014

        Right. A friend of mine has the Contractual Obligations album, but I think that “Finland, Finland” is only Scandinavian reference on it.

        • Gaw on Wednesday 26, 2014

          George, surely every self-respecting pedant knows Finland is not in Scandinavia? You can call it Nordic though.

  2. Peter on Wednesday 26, 2014

    Swedish joke: “The typical Finn is so introverted you can’t really get to know him until he has had several drinks, by which time he has become such as ass you don’t want to anymore”.

    The irony is that, as any Dane will tell you, the joke works almost as well aimed at the Swedes.

    • Worm on Wednesday 26, 2014

      Swedish jokes are quite serious

    • Gaw on Wednesday 26, 2014

      A Finnish colleague of mine informed me that silence is part of the conversation in Finland.

  3. malty on Wednesday 26, 2014

    Was best man (forover) at a multi-Nordic wedding, Norwegian bride and groom, Icelandic chief bridesmaid, Swedish sister-in-law #1, Swedish sister-in-law #2, plus a brace of brothers-in-law now Swedish citizens. Guests included groom’s Danish ex wife, misc Icelanders including several Sigmundsdottir and a bloke from Archangel but nobody knew why was he was there. The booze was cruised in from pre-bridge Denmark with contributions from yours truly, smuggled in, via the mould for a boat.
    Both the bride’s and the groom’s parents glaringly obviously detested the ground the Swedes walked on and as for the Icelanders, looked down noses abounded, the groom’s mum was miffed at the ceremony being conducted in English and only when, later, I invited her up to twist did the ice melt, our conversation was in German. The Norgies, Swedes and Icelanders distrust the Germans, the Norgies loathe the Swedes because they allowed the Germans to use the railways, to invade Norway, the Swedes think the Norgies are pathetic. The Danes think that the Germans are a shower because as my mate Tage Bottum pointed out, they own most of the best houses on the east coast and the Kraut kampervaners buy sod all but leave their turds behind. After many years doing business with them all I wouldn’t trust the Swedes as far as I could throw the local Ikea, the Icelanders are half decent, half bunch of crooks. Both the Danes and the Norwegians are fine.

    Once the smuggled Tamnavulin was opened the atmosphere visibly improved and a rollicking good time was had, not necessarily by all.

    Don’t get me started on the Finns, drink, you wouldn’t chuckle.

    • Mary on Wednesday 26, 2014

      malty, your posts transport me, felicitously, to a whole new way of being. Happy belated Valentine’s Day (or Alla hjärtans dag as they say in Sweden).