My Struggle Book One
Publication Date: April 13, 2012
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Almost ten years have passed since Karl Ove’s father drank himself to death. Vulnerable and assailed by doubts, he is now embarking on a new novel. With an uncanny eye for detail, Knausgaard breaks down his own life story into its elementary particles, reliving memories, reopening wounds, and examining with candor the turbulence and the epiphanies that emerge from his own experience of fatherhood, the fallout in the wake of his father’s death, and his visceral connection to music, art, and literature. Negotiating intimacy, love, and fear lie at the heart of his movements and mind as he moves from self- deprecation to self-absorption, from craving solitude to exposing an insatiable need for love and admiration, from alienation to harmony. Karl Ove’s dilemmas strike nerves that give us raw glimpses of our particular moment in history as we witness what happens to the sensitive and churning mind of a young man trying – as if his very life depended on it – to find his place in the disjointed world around him. This Proustian masterpiece opens a window into one of the most original minds writing today.
Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Norway in 1968. His debut novel Out of This World won the Norwegian Critics Prize in 2004 and his A Time for Everything (Archipelago) was a finalist for the Nordic Council Prize. For My Struggle, Knausgaard received the Brage Award in 2009 (for Book One), the 2010 Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, and the P2 Listeners’ Prize. My Struggle has been translated into more than fifteen languages. Knausgaard lives in Sweden with his wife and three children. Don Bartlett has translated dozens of books of various genres, including eight novels and short story collections by Jo Nesbø and It’s Fine by Me by Per Petterson. He lives in Norfolk, England.
Steadily absorbing, lit up by pages of startling insight and harrowing honesty, My Struggle introduces into world literature a singular character and immerses us in his fascinating Underground Man consciousness. —Phillip Lopate
Intense and vital . . . So powerfully alive to death . . . Where many contemporary writers would reflexively turn to irony, Knausgaard is intense and utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties. . . The need for totality . . . brings superb, lingering, celestial passages . . . He wants us to inhabit the ordinariness of life, which is sometimes vivid, sometimes banal, and sometimes momentous, but all of it perforce ordinary because it happens in the course of a life, and happens, in different forms, to everyone. . . The concluding sentences of the book [are] placid, plain, achieved. They have what Walter Benjamin called ‘the epic side of truth, wisdom.' —James Wood, The New Yorker
A profusion of quotidian ephemera—from binge drinking to cigarette after cigarette—serves to highlight the incommensurability of death in light of the banality of life...Knausgaard's gorgeous prose and enthralling reflections make this tome a rewarding struggle. —Publishers Weekly
It's a lucky reader who gets buried alive in this Norwegian literary avalanche. [My Struggle] is a free-wheeling, funny, smart, provocative, 471-page chunk of narrative that just keeps on coming. —Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness
The level of detail is the main fictioneering touch...but there’s a feeling that something portentous is lurking behind the accumulating descriptions of unremarkable events. —Christopher Tayler, London Review of Books
"KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD. MY STRUGGLE. It's unbelievable. I just read 200 pages of it and I need the next volume like crack." — Zadie Smith, via Twitter