When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Ten Years After Utøya, How A Democracy Faces Evil

Exactly a decade after Anders Breivik’s calculated massacre of terror shocked the world, we still struggle to make sense of the evil that cut short 77 lives.

The island of Utøya, where a mass shooting took place on July 22, 2011
The island of Utøya, where a mass shooting took place on July 22, 2011
Carl-Johan Karlsson

"If I could've killed him with impunity, I would have."

Those words were followed by a carbonated silence around the dinner table. This was late 2011, and the statement was by my friend's dad, Nils, an Oslo police officer who'd spent two days guarding Anders Behring Breivik during his arrest immediately after the Utøya shootings of July 22 that year.

It was not easy to imagine Nils, always so placid and unassuming (so much, in fact, that his gun always looked to me like an awkward prop on his hip), performing some backroom execution. And I'd like to believe he never would have; what my friend and I heard that night was rather the rage and sadness of someone incapable of making sense of seeing the lives of 77 mostly young people cut short with such cold-bloodedness.

All around Europe, the inherent virtues of democracy are increasingly called into question.

Ten years later, we still struggle to make sense of it. Was it mental illness? Islamophobia? Christian extremism? Some evil cocktail of all?

When approaching something like the extremities of evil, it might be impossible to draw any such lines. Religions of the non-fanatical bent have long struggled, mostly in vain, to identify the source of destructive acts of both man and nature.

This all leaves us largely without guidance in how to solve the problems of our time: In Norway, as well as in my home country, Sweden, and indeed all around Europe, political extremism and violence is on the rise and the inherent virtues of democracy are increasingly called into question.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg during the memorial service, exactly 10 years after the attack — Photo: Geir Olsen/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA Press

Returning to that evening at my friend's place, I'll never know for sure the level of sincerity in Nils' statement. But I knew then, as I do now, that I'm grateful we both live in countries where murder is never carried out with impunity — neither by the sick and hateful, nor a father grieving for his nation.

Evil, they say, never goes away — it can only be contained. A democracy aims to do that with neither vengeance nor prayers, but justice.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Shame On The García Márquez Heirs — Cashing In On The "Scraps" Of A Legend

A decision to publish a sketchy manuscript as a posthumous novel by the late Gabriel García Márquez would have horrified Colombia's Nobel laureate, given his painstaking devotion to the precision of the written word.

Photo of a window with a sticker of the face of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with butterfly notes at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Poster of Gabriel Garcia Marquez at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Juan David Torres Duarte


BOGOTÁ — When a writer dies, there are several ways of administering the literary estate, depending on the ambitions of the heirs. One is to exercise a millimetric check on any use or edition of the author's works, in the manner of James Joyce's nephew, Stephen, who inherited his literary rights. He refused to let even academic papers quote from Joyce's landmark novel, Ulysses.

Or, you continue to publish the works, making small additions to their corpus, as with Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett and Clarice Lispector, or none at all, which will probably happen with Milan Kundera and Cormac McCarthy.

Another way is to seek out every scrap of paper the author left and every little word that was jotted down — on a piece of cloth, say — and drip-feed them to publishers every two to three years with great pomp and publicity, to revive the writer's renown.

This has happened with the Argentine Julio Cortázar (who seems to have sold more books dead than alive), the French author Albert Camus (now with 200 volumes of personal and unfinished works) and with the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. The latter's posthumous oeuvre is so abundant I am starting to wonder if his heirs haven't hired a ghost writer — typing and smoking away in some bedsit in Barcelona — to churn out "newly discovered" works.

Which group, I wonder, will our late, great novelist Gabriel García Márquez fit into?

Keep reading...Show less

The latest