New article – reading Roy Jacobsen’s Barrøy novels as petrofiction

Sweat, Light, and Oil: Seeing the Energy in Roy Jacobsen’s Barrøy Novels” was published in the open-access journal Edda last month. In this article I examine Roy Jacobsen’s Barrøy novels (De usynlige (2013), Hvitt hav (2015), Rigels øyne (2017) and Bare en mor (2020)) for their depiction of energetic processes. I argue that these novels are examples of petrofiction, arising out of an engagement with Norway’s dependence on fossil fuel wealth, even though they are set well before the discovery of North Sea oil on the Norwegian continental shelf in 1969. In my reading, the novels depend on a contemporary petro-unconscious that call attention to the otherwise “invisible” processes that have fuelled Norway’s development in the past and present. Recognising the way that Norway has been shaped by its specific petroculture is an important step in understanding cultural concerns around energy in the future.

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