Design: FUK Graphic Design Studio
127 x 184 mm 191 Fiction | Novel
Oslo, Norway, the second in Holten’s Ragnarok trilogy that began with the widely acclaimed The Readymades, cleverly gathers romance, cartography and Nordic myth in a meta-fictional retelling or interpretation of the streets of the eponymous capital. A self-aware tale of love and the fictions that are told in the process of it, the novel will be enjoyed by readers of Bolaño, Cortázar and Calvino and should be attempted by others.
— Structo magazine
Broken Dimanche Press published Holten’s second novel, Oslo, Norway. Slimmer than its predecessor, it is no less abundant in flair, formal daring, and breadth of vision. There are metafictional tricks and turns, effervescent sexuality, apocalyptic visions, ruined love, Nordic alienation, and a Cortazarian invitation to read the novel in any number of ways.
After his critically acclaimed debut novel The Readymades, John Holten returns with an intriguing story of love and loss that begins in the affluent and rapidly growing city of Oslo, Norway. It follows the story of William Day, an economic migrant who moves to the city to work as a mechanical engineer before chance thrusts him into the alluring world of Sybille and her artist friend Camille. As they do their best to reconcile growing differences in personality and culture, Camille’s growing influence over Sybille threatens the relationship, before her dangerous friends in the Oslo underworld finally undo William’s search for stability. This sets William – and the reader – in the direction of the novel’s horizon, which is set outside of historical time and space, taking in the history of oil exploration, Norse mythology, coronal mass ejections and post-apocalyptic landscapes.
Written with an emotional honesty, Holten places himself directly in the book as both narrator and first reader, highlighting the discrepancy between any map and the territory it represents. The second book of a project entitled Ragnarok, Oslo Norway is constructed in a unique style and set with a visually arresting layout: a self-styled literary atlas that is a pleasure to hold, it creates a new form for a reading experience in line with how we read online. The story is recounted over thirty nine chapters, each named after various streets and environs of the city of Oslo, followed by a legend that unlocks and provides information from the preceding narrative in a revealing interplay between what is real and what is fiction. Inviting a non-linear reading, Holten has galvanised a new type of literary experience that is open-ended, multi-layered, wholly contemporary.
About John Holten
John Holten is a writer and artist as well as a publisher. Born in 1984 in Ireland, he studied at University College Dublin and the Sorbonne-Paris IV before obtaining an MPhil from Trinity College Dublin. In 2011 John published his first novel The Readymades to great acclaim, and the art group he created in the novel (with Darko Dragicevic), The LGB Group, enjoyed exhibitions in many cities as well as being included in The Armory Show, New York in 2012. Having co-founded Broken Dimanche Press as an international art press in 2009, he has overseen as Editor-In-Chief more than thirty publications and attendant exhibitions, projects and public events. In 2012 he travelled to the Congo with artist Richard Mosse for whom he edited A Supplement to The Enclave as part of Mosse’s 2014 Deutsche Boerse Photography Prize winning exhibition in London. You Are Here, the first book published by Broken Dimanche Press, won at the Charlemagne European Youth Prize in 2010. As well as this editorial work, John has also written for many artists such as Natalie Czech, Mahony, Darri Lorenzen and Jani Ruscica, often working closely with them to produce immersive or participatory texts. His work has appeared in many international contemporary art settings such as Malmö konsthall, The White Building London, David Zwirner Gallery New York (with Aengus Woods), NGBK and Agora, Berlin and Villa Romana, Florence amongst others. His video commercials for Oslo, Norway have been exhibited in Plan B Gallery and Team Titanic, Berlin, Extrapool, Nijmegen and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna. In 2011 he received a Literature Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland.