Author: Asne Seierstad
Published: 2015 by Virago Press, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group
Read: January 2016
Why it made it to the top of the pile: Despite wanting to read this, I have been dodging opening a book about such a horrific massacre. The appearance of this book on many 'best of 2015' lists prompted me to sit down and get reading.
Categories: Non-Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Translated into English
Full Disclosure: Advance reading copy courtesy Hachette Australia and TheReadingRoom
Trivia Tidbit: Seierstad is completely fluent in five languages and has 'a good working knowledge' of another four.
Asne Seierstad is a Norwegian journalist who has worked for many years as a foreign correspondent. She returned home to cover the massacre and subsequent trial. Her account is thorough, going back to the childhood of Breivik and some of his victims. It spends some time trying to dissect/understand Breivik's manifesto, which I lost interest in - I was far more interested in the lives and potential of the lives of those impacted by Breivik than the murderer himself. On some level it seems to me that to dedicate too many pages to the manifesto of a deluded individual is to satisfy the original motivation for the killings. I agree that some understanding of Breivik's motivation (however outrageous, unwarranted and ranty) is helpful, a 2-3 page summary would have been just as useful as the chapters devoted to the evolving ravings of a madman.
That said, this is a very interesting, engaging, and ultimately heartbreaking story. The victims' stories are told with compassion and respect. The number of times Breivik was almost stopped - from proposed psychiatric intervention when he was two years old, to interruptions during his bomb preparation, and particularly as he was caught in traffic between the bomb site and Utoya, gave this reader serious pause for thought.