The First Stone

A gripping, panoramic drama about the power of myth-making and the limits of war, from the celebrated Carsten Jensen, Danish author of the internationally best-selling We, The Drowned.

Carsten Jensen's commentary on the terror attacks in Copenhagen goes viral

Carsten Jensen's commentary on the terror attack in Copenhagen, published in the Danish newspaper Politiken the 16th of February has a ripple effect. The article, problematizing freedom of speech and terror in Denmark and critizising the silence of Danish politicians following the shootings in Copenhagen, has been published in several newpapers internationally in German, French, Noewegian, Swedish and Finnish.

In the article, Danish journalist and author, Carsten Jensen, asks if ‘official Denmark’ has not largely itself to blame as a "self-radicalising nation" which has deliberately steered towards confrontation and whether it is just a coincidence that the sparks of terror ran from Paris directly to Copenhagen?

WE, THE DROWNED published in portuguese

WE, THE DROWNED has just recently been published in Portugal to rave reviews in the national daily Rua de Baixo:

Searching the equilibrium of the world

In whichever world, may we cross the path of fiction or tread along the difficult road of reality, there is a common adjective able to define, in a single word with four (five) letters, the excellence and grandiosity: epic. This is an adjective that will perfectly fit, as if made on purpose for that occasion, in “We, the Drowned” (Bertrand Editora, 2014), book by Carsten Jensen that deserves many and any honors that may be made to it. The book is an instantaneous classic, be it for the colossal aspect – it is nearly close to the 800 pages – or by covering, practically, an entire century of history with the fresh air of Northern Europe coming in, without permission but great nerve, through the windows left ajar. (…) Magnificent maritime journey between exotic lands and tempestuous seas, We, the Drowned is a full-length novel, with as much of irony as of drama, in a waving X-ray of the fragile human condition and the search of the soul throughout the equilibrium of the world. By covering the chronological line between the end of the XIX century until the end of WWII, Carsten Jensen also recovers a time of great changes, be it in the naval industry or in the familiar life of little towns and villages, that had the sea as spiritual guide – for good and evil. May Christmas approach and everyone pay attention to the madness of lists, We the Drowned will certainly be among the best books of the year to many good people. As for us, RDB, we have already taken a seat. In the box with VIP service.

Carsten Jensen's talk during Filba Literatura

I went to the Museo de Memoria and after having been there I could speak about fascism, the brutality of the military, the ruthlessness of the generals, the pain of the victims, the gaping holes left in our memories by the departing dead.

Yes, I could speak about the painful necessity of remembering all these thing even though we know that the memory of them will haunt us in our nightmares. I could speak of how I listened to Salvador Allendes last words transmitted on a radiostation that was about to be shot down forever and I could speak of how his words moved me to tears. I have never heard anybody speaking with such dignity, such calm, such eloquence and such spiritual serenity while all the time he knew that in less than an hour he would be dead. In his last minutes on earth Salvador Allende was staring the monster in the eyes teaching us that you must always stare the monster in the eyes if you want to defeat it.

So this museum could also be called The Museum of Staring the Monster in the Eyes. But I will not speak of this.

I will speak of hands.

I saw them, these hands, on the photos and in the documentaries in the museum, the hands of those arrested, being kicked and pushed around and beaten up, forced to kneel halfnaked on the ground, their hands always high up in the air or folded behind the back of their heads.

What does it mean when you raise your hands high in the air or fold them behind the back of your head?

You want to proof that you are harmless. You are not going to defend yourself. You have surrendered. Please, let me live.

Please. That s all your hands are saying. This one begging word.

You might as well not have hands anymore. You have given up on having hands. Thats what you gesture means. You are a man or a woman without hands. So this is what I saw at the Museum of Memory. A people deprived of its hands.

What are hands for?

For shaking others peoples hands as a sign of trust. To clench your fist as a proof that you are ready to defend yourself.

Hands are for talking. Hands are for overcoming loneliness. Hands are there to grap a hammer and build a house. Or take up a pen and start writing. To prepare food. To guide your children over the street and through life. To caress and give joy.

Without hands you are still a human being, but you are humiliated, powerless human being. You will build nothing, write nothing, you will leave nothing behind nor will you have any influence on the future.

You have raised your hands high up in the air to signal that you leave your destiny to others.

Imagine a big number of men without hands. Despite their numbers they will form no community. They cannot connect with each other. They are doomed to be for ever on the run, shivering in fear.

This is the vision of fascism. This is what fascism wants. A subued people. A people with no hands.

But the museum of Memory is not the Museum of a People with no Hands. It is a museum of a people who remembered what hands are for and who after having been defeated rose up again and with its hands took back what had been stolen from it. The rights of hands to touch, to stretch out and become symbols of trust, to link together and create new communities and, hand in hand, bring the traffic in the streets to a halt dancing and celebrating when victory is finally won and fascism defeated.

So this is what I saw in the Museum of Memory.

Men and women with their hands raised in the air or folded behind the back of their heads. But I also saw them lower their hands again and use them as the tools they should be to create the future of a nation.

So visiting the Museum of Memory. I also visited the Museum of Staring the Monster in the Eyes. I visited the Museum of Remembering What Your Hands are For. I visited the Museum of Defeating the Monster.

Thank you, people of Chile. For the example you gave the world and the lesson you taught me.

Thank you.

Read more about the festival and Carsten Jensen's performance at the Filba Literatura website.

We, the Drowned now Available in Twenty Languages

Carsten Jensen's epic novel We, the Drowned is now available in a whopping twenty languages, from Finish to Brazilian, from Turkish to Dutch. The novel is now published in:

Norway, Sweden, Germany, England, Holland, USA, Italy, Finland, Spain, France, Poland, Greece, Russia, Iceland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Hungary, and Brazil.