-för en 'bättre värld'
Hmm, this was a difficult one. I do not think I have come across such a novel yet, but just the other day I actually read this one, which I sympathised with to the greatest of extents:
Hope in Hell (2010), Dan Bortollotti
And now, why was it the book that is most like my life?
It actually struck me quite hard when I read it, I will give you the extract that I found particularly amusing in the bottom of the post.
First of all, the background: medical voluntary work in Zimbabwe’s suburbs and Tanzania’s capital, with everything that accompanies such a vocation. When I came home from, especially Tanzania, these countries, I had a very hard time adjusting back to my pre-Africa life. To be quite fair, I do not think I have managed to do so yet. It is very easy to travel to a low-income country, to the majority world. You have seen so much on TV and read so much that you know that your heart will break, which also is the case. However, my heart was splintered into a millions pieces when I returned home; back to asphalted streets, luxurious cars, big supermarkets, and so petty everyday problems – the so called New Fridge Syndrome.
And this, this was why I felt such a recognition in this book, said by a home-coming MSFer:
”I’m sitting at the table and my family is saying, ‘Tell us about Nigeria.’ I should have known better, but I couldn’t help myself, and I said, ‘Well, there are clashes in the north in Kaduna, and they were putting tires around people’s heads; and then down in Biafra there’s this and that; and over in Lagos, you wouldn’t believe what this slum looked like,’ And my mother literally sat there and went, ‘Wow. did I tell you we got a new refrigerator?’ I swear to God. I couldn’t believe it. And I thought, ‘Those guys at MSF really know what they’re talking about.”
This, my readers, is the New Fridge Syndrome – a lack of sympathy for what you have witnessed, a sense of non-belonging in your own home-country, the split between who I was before I went and the world citizen I grew into when I was away, the cynicism of living the good life. Not guilt, not anger; just a syndrome.