In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean lies an island that American and European intelligence services have strived to keep secret ever since World War 1. All official drafts have been manipulated, and any merchant vessel that approaches is sunk, the ocean floor has been restructured – they’ll do anything to make sure no one ever learns about the island.
One day, late in the winter of 1989, Johannes van der Linden arrives on the island. He is not quite sure where he was transported from or where he has arrived. He has come to work in the settlement’s archives. It rains endlessly, the food is flavorless, sleep eludes him, everything seems to be drained of value or meaning. Slowly it dawns on Johannes that the island is populated by the living dead. And also that he appears to be one of them. Is there a way out of this non-existence?
Zombie Nation is a different conspiracy theory, a gothic horror story and an existential zombie tale. It is about our own inertia, about our lack of concern for one another, about the death of culture. But even more than that, it is about the possibility of life, even for the dead.
The novel wase released Gyldendal February 2014. Pocket 2015. Translated og published in France and Poland 2015.
For English sample translation and synopsis, see Gyldendal Agency.
Cover Painting Barbar
Odd W. Surén in Dag og tid 14.02.2014
«Øystein Stene has now written a novel about zombies and despite the virtually impossible conditions inherent to his subject matter, he has accomplished this very well. It is a serious novel that can be interpreted in many ways, so the text also concerns the reader. It is quite simply an original and fascinating work, in which fact and fiction are mixed in an interesting manner, containing elements from the Enlightenment and Gothic literature, mythology, great discoveries and the natural science and historical knowledge of our times.»
Brynjulf Jung Tjønn in VG 03.03.2014
«Stene’s novel cannot be compared with simple entertainment films. Zombie Nation is something as unique as an intelligent and original depiction of the living dead. Stene writes the zombies’ history: who they actually are and why pop culture is compelled to bring them to the fore (…) The story is written in strong, vibrant language without a single stale phrase. Blood and gore is secondary; there is some to be found here, but it is Stene’s inventiveness, his ability to surprise, and the small, artful conspiracy theories that give the through story its momentum. Rating: 5 stars.”
Bjørn Gabrielsen in Dagens næringsliv Magasinet 15.02.2014
«Øystein Stene’s Zombie Nation is an allegorical novel of an international standard. (…) The Labofnian condition can be interpreted as the Western human being’s experience of the unbearable lightness of being, as a warning of what will come to pass if society loses the connection with its history or even as a particularly male form of distance from own emotions. It can be read as a commentary on the Cold War. It has truly many applications. Zombie nation is an inventive and clever novel, and its interpretation, for the most part, is left up to the reader. The novel is solid enough in its composition that a tension is upheld. And towards the very end the author offers a tiny glimpse of hope in an otherwise pitch-black world.”
Geir Vestad in Hamar Arbeiderblad 20.02.2014
«Original and shrewd about the living dead on a deserted island. Zombies are in fashion, but are seldom employed with such originality as in Øystein Stene’s Zombie Nation (…) Despite a somewhat peculiar starting point, Stene succeeds in saying something that feels essential about how life is lived. It is about how the dead view the living, but to an equally large extent, it is about how the living view the dead. And this duplicity, which Stene finds expression for through use of materials from the island’s archives, is both shrewdly and elegantly executed. In sum, Zombie Nation is a kind of existential allegory, an elegant, metaphorical depiction of how we have reached a point of distance from ourselves, and thereby also distance from death as a fundamental condition.”
Brita Strand Ragnes in Stavanger Aftenblad 02.06.2014
«The depiction of Johanne’s discovery of his voice, of language, of the world around him is down-to-earth and lovely. The experience of alienation, the absence of memories, feelings, colours and senses becomes a parallel to our own attempts to create history, connection and meaning. The description of Johanne’s development in an increasingly human direction is gripping and engaging. In Zombie Nation the monster is given language, awareness and humanity in an impressive manner. In this way, we are stripped of the perception of an uncomplicated, external enemy, who may be legitimately wiped out or banished, and we are reminded that such an enemy can never be anything more than a fiction»
Fartein Horgar in Adresseavisen 10.02.2014
«An original take on a universal theme, namely the dismal absence of an inner life. (..) It is possible to read a critique of modernity in Stene’s story. But that is something done with every other novel these days. It is more fruitful to read Zombie Nation as a longing for an inner life that has been lost and the despair over an emotional life one feels must exist, but is personally cut off from.”