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A Town Called Mørk

Adam Mars-Jones: Per Petterson

6 November 2014
I Refuse 
by Per Petterson, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 282 pp., £16.99, October 2014, 978 1 84655 781 1
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... a new hand, it was your hand, but you hadn’t seen it before, and you laughed and said: I’ve got a new hand, Jim, look at my hand, Jim, it’s waving, it will never go home again. The translator, DonBartlett, must take credit for the assurance of the cadences. Women don’t quite have the monopoly on empathy, but it’s chiefly a female accomplishment. It’s true that Tommy, when arrested as a ...

Dad’s Going to Sue

Christopher Tayler: ‘My Struggle’

5 April 2012
A Death in the Family: My Struggle: Vol. I 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 393 pp., £17.99, March 2012, 978 1 84655 467 4
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... He died to prove to himself that his feelings were genuine’ – and ending his story with a bout of masturbation and compulsive self-harming. Henrik’s coda would make a useful introduction to DonBartlett’s translation of the first instalment of My Struggle, which Knausgaard’s British publishers have called A Death in the Family. In addition to explaining the aura of mystery that surrounds Karl ...

Give me a Danish pastry!

Christopher Tayler: Nordic crime fiction

17 August 2006
The Priest of Evil 
by Matti-Yrjänä Joensuu, translated by David Hackston.
Arcadia, 352 pp., £11.99, May 2006, 1 900850 93 1
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by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, translated by Lois Roth.
Harper Perennial, 288 pp., £6.99, August 2006, 0 00 723283 7
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Borkmann’s Point 
by Håkan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson.
Macmillan, 321 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 333 98984 8
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The Redbreast 
by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 520 pp., £11.99, September 2006, 9781843432173
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by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Bernard Scudder.
Harvill Secker, 313 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 1 84655 033 5
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... Chasing a cross-dressing serial killer through a tunnel beneath Helsinki, Timo Harjunpää, the hero of The Priest of Evil by Matti-Yrjänä Joensuu, pulls out his gun and then pauses to consider the health and safety implications of what he’s doing. ‘He recalled that this communal tunnel was used for almost everything: water and drainage, heating, electricity, telephone cables. It also occurred ...

So Frank

Sheila Heti: Meeting Knausgaard

9 January 2014
My Struggle: Book 2. A Man in Love 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Vintage, 544 pp., £8.99, October 2013, 978 0 09 955517 9
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... the writing studio. His many readers believe that what he’s writing is the truth. But if the scrubbing of the potatoes was made up, are the books true, in the way we understand true to be? If they don’t have a faithful relationship with ‘what happened’, does it matter? Might they even in some ways be better? Book 2 of My Struggle follows the first-person protagonist, Karl Ove Knausgaard, as ...

Each Cornflake

Ben Lerner: Knausgaard, Vol. 3

21 May 2014
My Struggle: Vol. 3. Boyhood Island 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 490 pp., £12.99, March 2014, 978 1 84655 722 4
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... equal weighting of experience that evokes both childhood and drugs. Childishness involves a susceptibility to absorption and enchantment that we associate with intoxicants in adults (when we don’t associate it with a mental disorder). ‘The child sees everything as a novelty,’ Baudelaire wrote, ‘the child is always “drunk”.’ And genius is no more than childhood recaptured at ...

Look at me

Raymond Fancher

28 June 1990
Rebel with a Cause 
by H.J. Eysenck.
W.H. Allen, 310 pp., £14.95, March 1990, 1 85227 162 0
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... off, and we nearly always won.’ Eysenck’s competitive sensibility seems even to have influenced his tastes in Classical music: ‘I prefer Puccini to Wagner, Mozart to Bach, Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote to anything by Brahms, except his violin concerto, Beethoven to any of the moderns, Vivaldi to Schoenberg.’ Described this way, his preferences sound like the early-round results of a ...


Fredric Jameson

8 November 2018
My Struggle: Book 6. The End 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 1153 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 84655 829 0
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... in the earlier books, particularly the father’s death in Book 1. Actually, if you want to begin here with Six, maybe you ought to read Book 1 first. Q. Is this fiction or autobiography? A. I don’t know. He uses both words, and sometimes calls it a novel. Indeed, sometimes he seems to think of each individual volume as a separate novel, which may give us a clue. As for autobiography, he ...

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