My Struggle: Book One
Karl Ove Knausgaard
translated by Don Bartlett
Archipelago Books / Consortium | 9781935744184 | $18.00 | May 2012
(also available in e-book)
photo credit: Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Today’s Norwegian-of-the-moment, Karl Ove Knausgaard, was featured today on the front page of the NYT Arts section in a long profile, looking at his career and his epic six-volume act of literary memoir/fiction, My Struggle. The first volume of six parts has just been published here (in translation from Norwegian) by one of the publishers I represent, Archipelago Books (via Consortium Book Sales & Distribution).
Though “My Struggle,” a minutely detailed examination of Mr. Knausgaard’s family life, has done extremely well in Europe — in Norway, about half a million copies have been sold, the equivalent of one for every 10 people — it has also put Mr. Knausgaard (pronounced Kuh-NOWS-guard) squarely at the center of a debate about literary ethics and made him a kind of bad boy of European letters.
In the first volume of “My Struggle,” just published in the United States, Mr. Knausgaard, now 43, writes unsparingly about the death of his father, who falls into alcoholic squalor when his marriage collapses, and his incontinent grandmother. Later volumes focus with similar candor on his own two marriages, his current wife’s bipolar condition and his mixed feelings about the demands of parenthood.
My pick for most-intriguing-review-thus-far has been Nick DiMartino in Shelf Awareness, who opened with this doozy of a sentence:
It's a lucky reader who gets buried alive in the literary avalanche of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle--a free-wheeling, funny, smart, provocative chunk of narrative that just keeps on coming, a flashback-laced plunge into one man's life, with memories within memories rattled off like a simpler, friendlier modern-day Proust.
Knausgaard is coming back to the US this fall for a series of appearances at literary festivals, including:
- Brooklyn Book Festival (September 23, 2012)
- Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Book Festival (October 13, 2012)
- Litquake in San Francisco (October 5 – 13, 2012)
If you’d like to read a sample of My Struggle, Book One, Archipelago has posted a PDF to their site for your download.
Finally, one of my favorite developments in recent years has been the author-curated playlist that captures the mood they were in while writing the book or the songs that captured the feeling they were trying to evoke. Archipelago has linked to a Spotify playlist of classic rock and new wave songs mentioned in the book. (Spotify link | play the playlist online at ShareMyPlaylists)