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Author Jo Nesbø writes of Tragedy in Norway

View of Oslo city after July 22, 2011 bombing.

Bestselling thriller writer Jo Nesbø, best known for his gritty Harry Hole series, is quite familiar with the themes of murder and evil, having explored these dark impulses in his books. Yet he, and his fellow country men, were forced to deal with the ugly truth of murderous rage on July 22 when a terrorist launched twin attacks on Utøya island and an Oslo government building in Norway, killing 76 people. In an article for The guardian, Nesbø writes of the loss of innocence that his homeland experienced after the attacks and how the tragedy has changed the national psyche.

“…I came from a country where fear of others had not found a foothold…A country where everyone’s material needs were provided for when oil was discovered in the 70s, and where the political path was established right after the second world war…[T]he Norwegian self-image before 22 July 2011 was that of a virgin – nature untouched by human hands, a nation unsullied by the ills of society,” he writes.

Nesbø, acknowledges a new level of fear that he, and the Norwegian society at large, now feel. He accepts that this fear “will never – never – disappear entirely.” The brutal killings marked a watershed moment in their history. “That date will occur every year, 22 July, and for Norwegians who are alive today, it will be a reminder for the rest of our lives that nothing can be taken for granted, in spite of the bike helmets and seatbelts.”

However, the author has no doubt that the Norwegian people will overcome this newfound fear with resolve and courage. “So if there is no road back to how things used to be, to the total, unconscious and naive fearlessness of what was untouched, there is a road forward. To be brave. To keep on as before. To turn the other cheek as we ask: ‘Was that all you’ve got?’ To refuse to allow fear to set limits to the way we continue to build our society,” he concludes.

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