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Cecilia Cervin’s speech to Sara Beischer


You are young, but in the good refractory spirit, you have already made great efforts.

Among other things, you have an extensive lecture operation going. You have lectured on, among other things, Swedish proletarian literature and have been greatly appreciated for it. And this is important, important, important! We must also remember history, and how the portrayal of the proletariat has existed, and has meant a lot. But you don’t stop there. It is very important to remember those who have gone before, but – society is changing, and oppression and vulnerability are constantly taking new forms. You are part of this in your two important novels, where you have written about the toughest working environments of our time, healthcare and school, both in true refractory spirit.

The first one, I’m not really supposed to work here, has a structure that is reminiscent of the heroic story of folk poetry. Your heroine, Moa, goes out into the unknown world – Stockholm – strange and alluring at the same time. She must conquer – not the prince and the kingdom; no THEATRE! There she hopes to really be able to influence, and with the power of art, also change the world. (But by all means, a prince may be part of the plan as well. But it is this with the theatre, and the chance to influence, that is her great pathos.)

Her laborious path goes through the deterrent elderly care – it is necessary to earn a living before she can break through. The elderly care, it’s a tough, disgusting, smelly job. And there she encounters obstacles, but also the unexpected helpers of the fairy tale, fairies disguised as witches. One of them is Leena, with two e.

Along the way, Moa herself is changed. When she has almost arrived at her sub goal, to get a screen test for some social commercial, her new humanity wins, and she chooses “fika” with the helpless and disgusting old-timer over the screen test.

Now, this is not a cute folk tale with a happy ending. You describe the elderly care in all its inhumanity, both to the objects of care, and – not least – to the care workers. The work is hectic, tough and shamefully underpaid. We all know this on an abstract level. You show it.

In a newspaper interview about which professions you can robotize in the future – thus replacing the workers with robots – a representative of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise argues like this: Well, preschool teachers, there you may still need people, but the elderly care, that we can robotize! To shower the elderly, and help them in the toilet, that is suitable for robots!

We who in different contexts have seen health care workers, home care workers, people working in the closed elderly care, we know that these people are irreplaceable. This is not about robotic work. It’s about meeting the most vulnerable with tenderness and respect. If these heroes of health care, whom we all either have or will get to experience, about them, you and everyone else may continue to report refractory until these heroes receive the appreciation they deserve.

This about your first book. Your second book, There Are Rats Everywhere Except in Antarctica, has, like last year’s Robespierre laureate, its starting point in the Million Programme, as experienced by those born there. Your Clara’s mom has experienced something else, and she is humbly grateful for the improvements that, despite all, the Million Programme meant. But your Clara is longing to get out and away, because the class differences did not disappear. In school, they become especially clear. And maybe most notably for those like your Clara – not at the very bottom, no, but in the anxious middle layer, which in its way is at least as exposed as the others. Life at school is inhumanly harsh and merciless, and you can also see that it is not just the students who take damage. You can also describe how hard and relentless it is for the teachers there.

Well, do you provide any simple remedies then? No, thank goodness. You are far too wise and human to try that. But Your depictions of these vulnerable areas are an extraordinary, living, speaking and refractory protest against two violently politically neglected areas. No matter how much you scream, and make beautiful election speeches, continue to protest! we ask of you, grateful for what you have already done, but with warm hopes that you will continue, and offer even more, even more, even more!

Thanks Sara!