Have you heard of the book, The Naked Swiss: A Nation Behind 10 Myths?
We all love chit chatting about the Swiss, but have we really taken the time to get down and dirty examining the truths behind the country and if the stereotypes are indeed true? Based on extensive research, Clare O’Dea takes you through a tour promising to change the way the world thinks about modern Switzerland – and give Swiss readers much to think about too.
Zuri Girl…What do you hope readers learn from the book?
Clare O’Dea…The better you know someone, the more interesting they become. The same goes for a nationality. I hope readers will get to know new aspects of the Swiss and Switzerland, and come away feeling entertained and well-informed. Researching and writing the book was a learning process for me and I feel my relationship with my adopted country is richer and deeper now. I would love to be able to pass that on, and build bridges in the process, because I feel there’s a lot of misunderstanding between foreign residents and the Swiss.
Zuri Girl…How did you research the information for the book?
Clare O’Dea…Thirteen years of living and working as a journalist in Switzerland was the preparation for this book. Then I drew on a whole range of sources – interviews, books in different languages, documentaries, websites, Swiss and international media coverage, all sorts of reports and studies. I contacted companies, various federal departments, historians, economists, politicians, and I even visited one of the oldest surviving Swiss suffragettes who is 98!
Zuri Girl…What inspired you to write this?
Clare O’Dea…A few things came together to make me write this book. One thing was leaving the day job. After nearly a decade covering Swiss news for swissinfo.ch, I decided to go freelance last year. That gave me the freedom to think about new projects.
Another thing was my naturalisation procedure in 2014/5 which made me think a lot about my relationship with Switzerland.
The third thing was that I felt the Swiss weren’t very well understood by the outside world and that they were either harshly criticised or presented as too good to be true. I felt motivated to set the record straight.
Zuri Girl…What 4 words describe the tone of the book?
Clare O’Dea…Open-minded, questioning, positive, irreverent.
Zuri Girl…There’s a fair amount of books on the market for Expats. What sets this apart?
Clare O’Dea…The Naked Swiss is fresh off the printing press – I only completed the manuscript a few months ago. That makes it the most up-to-date book available about the country. It is also comprehensive, covering all the big issues of the day in modern Switzerland in a reader-friendly structure. Many of the books about Switzerland are largely based on personal experience but I am not a central character in this book. My idea, apart from presenting a wide range of research in an accessible way, was to introduce a lot of interesting Swiss citizens and to let the facts and the people speak for themselves. Writing from a woman’s point of view also means there are issues covered in The Naked Swiss that are overlooked in other books.
This book is a very useful tool to fill any gaps the reader might have about Swiss current affairs. It puts things in context, and has given me more confidence in expressing my opinions about Switzerland.
Zuri Girl…Before moving to Switzerland, did you ever imagine you’d be writing this book? What’s your background?
Clare O’Dea…I had no special interest in Switzerland before I came to live here, but I’ve always had an interest in writing. My background is in journalism: print, radio and television in my country of origin (Ireland), and mostly online journalism since I moved to Switzerland in 2003. It had been a long-held wish of mine to write a book, but this is the first time I had such a clear and strong idea, and that I was able to find the right publisher.