The novel „The Swedish Dream” is based on true story of Lidija Manfredi, who is probably the best example how the fate can be changed from the ground when someone is at the wrong place at the wrong time. Or when by unlucky twist of fate finds oneself bumping into wrong people.
Plot of the novel is in Sweden, the state that is for many people from the Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia portrayed as land of opportunities, unattainable ideal of democracy, social care and society that functions just perfectly
However, example of our heroine in the best way debunks all deficiencies of the Swedish system, corruption within all spheres and dark side of „the best country for living in the world”.
Example of pour heroine will show all ill-favored reality that deep below the surface in deep depths of the parallel reality hide the secrets that might be devastating for those who dare touching them. Lidija fell on her skin what it looks like when an individual starts a fight against the system. When this happens and when emerges danger that secrets might come to light, that the entire state apparatus turns against individual who dared to cross the line drawn for all.
Then it breaks him, mills him, twists him until he agrees to uniformity and obeying the rules or simply, destroys him. As case study for others. This is a story of a woman who painfuly learned of the other side of famous „Swedish dream”. Lidija is third generation of Serbian immigrants, who began settling this country during the 60s of the last century. Her childhood and early teens were no way different than lives of thousand other children who grew up in labor immigrant families, so called Gastarbeiter (guest worker in German).
The novel unfolds in „flashbacks”, in memories of the heroine, images of childhoods, early teens and previous live flash before her eyes with only one question: „Could everything might have been differently”?
The novel begins with a scene from detention. Lidija is in isolation and leaves the cell for an hour walk. From an outside world, she can see just a piece of the sky above her head. She looks above and repeats: „This shall pass too”. Walking on beaten track in the small prison yard by the umpteenth time memories are rushing through her head and life spins around.
She sees herself as little girl growing up with Grandma and Grandpa while her parents are always at work trying to make as much money as possible and survive in the foreign country. She grows up in the colony which will later on be occupied by the immigrant from all around the world and turn it into ghetto.
She remembers a girl being close with her father and mother that was very distant and alienated. She remembers everything… Until the moment when her life turns into a nightmare…
She remembers the day and the moment when she knocked at the neighbor’s and asked to borrow two eggs that she was missing to make pancakes. Those were the costliest pancakes ever made in Sweden. She paid with her life and family.
As of that moment as if she entered the twilight zone, other side of reality in which didn’t manage her life but some dark unknown force that determined her fate.
Never-ending unitedly were events that she thought existed only in psychological thrillers. She is no longer able to control her existence, but feels like steel hand grasps around her neck and pushes her deeper into hell. This invisible and ruthless hand is called a system. System of the state steeped in corruption, invisible to the naked eye, but present by all means. This particularly refers to those who are refuted by the system.
Subsequent events of evicting from the apartment, trials, psychiatric clinic, prisons…
Lidija was charged for something she didn’t do, and thinking from the standpoint of an innocent person, she was convinced that everything is just a practical joke and that everything will come to place. She thought that innocent person must not, cannot stay in prison. Perhaps someplace in dictatorship, in the Third World countries, but not in Sweden. Not in her country.
Going through the greatest temptations and waiting for the call of reporting for sentencing in the worst female prison, she meets Vittorio. Handsome Italian becomes the love of her life. Lidija sees the light at the end of tunnel and thinks her life will take another turn. But…
Nebojša Milosavljević, writer