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Can we eat them?

Rivka Galchen: Knausgaard’s Escape, 24 January 2019

by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 240 pp., £16.99, August 2017, 978 1 910701 63 8
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by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 272 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 1 910701 65 2
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by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 192 pp., £16.99, February 2018, 978 1 910701 67 6
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by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Ingvild Burkey.
Harvill Secker, 416 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 910701 69 0
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... of a brain haemorrhage two years later. This sounds more associatively dire than it should. But Karl OveKnausgaard’s Seasons Quartet puts the reader in a highly associative state of mind. Autumn, which begins the project, announces itself as a letter to an unborn daughter, ...

So Frank

Sheila Heti: Meeting Knausgaard, 9 January 2014

My Struggle: Book 2. A Man in Love 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Vintage, 544 pp., £8.99, October 2013, 978 0 09 955517 9
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... Last year, I happened to meet the Norwegian writer Karl OveKnausgaard. I had just read part of Book 1 of My Struggle, his six-volume autobiographical series, and in a scene that imprinted itself on my memory – a scene from his childhood, set on New Year’s Eve before he heads out with his friends – he steps into the family kitchen: I got up, grabbed the orange peel, went into the kitchen, where mum was scrubbing potatoes, opened the cupboard beside her and dropped the peel in the wastebin, watched dad walk across the drive, running a hand through his hair in that characteristic way of his, after which I went upstairs to my room, closed the door behind me, put on a record and lay down on my bed again ...

Each Cornflake

Ben Lerner: Knausgaard, Vol. 3, 22 May 2014

My Struggle: Vol. 3. Boyhood Island 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 490 pp., £12.99, March 2014, 978 1 84655 722 4
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... Does​ Karl OveKnausgaard have a style? His sentences, while often long, are not elaborate; they can read like lists. ‘Infamously direct’, is how his English publisher puts it. He has a tendency towards cliché: news is always spreading like wildfire, and so on. The writing, precisely where it aspires to the literary, can be sloppy: ‘The warm, bright September days were summer’s last burst of energy before abruptly crumbling ...

Strap on an ox-head

Patricia Lockwood: Christ comes to Stockholm, 6 January 2022

The Morning Star 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Martin Aitken.
Harvill Secker, 666 pp., £20, September 2021, 978 1 910701 71 3
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... Imight have​ met him once. In September 2015 I flew to Norway for a literary festival. Knausgaard was the headliner, but he cancelled at the last minute and was replaced by an Elvis impersonator. Instead of pictures of Karl Ove smoking the cigarette of the camera down to its smouldering butt-end, the newspaper coverage of the event included photographs of a pastorally beefy Elvis in a white rhinestone jumpsuit, gazing through dark glasses into the bright sun ...

Dad’s Going to Sue

Christopher Tayler: ‘My Struggle’, 5 April 2012

A Death in the Family: My Struggle: Vol. I 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 393 pp., £17.99, March 2012, 978 1 84655 467 4
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... Karl OveKnausgaard’s first two novels, Out of the World (Ute av verden, 1998) and A Time to Every Purpose under Heaven (En tid for alt, 2004), attracted admiring reviews and won prizes. ‘I was discussed,’ he told the Telegraph recently, ‘but as you discuss literature – in a kind of sober way ...


Fredric Jameson, 8 November 2018

My Struggle: Book 6. The End 
by Karl OveKnausgaard, translated by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 1153 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 84655 829 0
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... emails. So in fact, if you really want to know what happens in this book, what happens is that Karl Ove writes, or is distracted by his family from writing, or has to get away for a few weeks to write, etc. We know what he wrote, of course, because it is in the other volumes; but here we do not yet know what he is writing, if you see what I ...

Saint Agnes’s Lament

Christian Lorentzen: ‘Shuggie Bain’, 3 December 2020

Shuggie Bain 
by Douglas Stuart.
Picador, 448 pp., £14.99, August, 978 1 5290 1927 8
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... but the implied comparison seems to be stylistic rather than thematic.) Edward St Aubyn and Karl OveKnausgaard, with their bad dads, would also have been apt. The critic Sam Sacks has called such books ‘agony novels’, but agony by itself isn’t usually enough. The third volume of ...

It’s not me who’s seeing

Blake Morrison: Jon Fosse’s Methods, 5 January 2023

by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls.
Fitzcarraldo, 825 pp., £16.99, November, 978 1 80427 006 6
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Aliss at the Fire 
by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls.
Fitzcarraldo, 74 pp., £10.99, November, 978 1 80427 004 2
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... he will be conscious of the claims of other Norwegians, including Per Petterson, Dag Solstad and Karl OveKnausgaard, who was a creative writing pupil of his back in the 1980s. (In a Paris Review article Damion Searls depicted them as a literary fab foursome, with Knausgaard the ...

Several Doses of Wendy

Robert Baird: David Means, 11 August 2016

by David Means.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 33011 9
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... Jest and Underworld and 2666, the multi-volume massifs by Hilary Mantel, Elena Ferrante and Karl OveKnausgaard. Did it matter that Means (with his wife) was the dedicatee of one of the most celebrated megaliths of the past quarter-century, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections? Of course not. Or that Means had ...

Barrage Balloons of Fame

Christopher Tayler: We need to talk about Martin, 8 October 2020

Inside Story 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 521 pp., £20, September, 978 1 78733 275 1
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... as a novel comes in for immediate qualification. Not surprisingly, it isn’t autofiction of the Karl OveKnausgaard kind. It isn’t a straight-up autobiographical novel either. Amis uses terms like ‘novelised autobiography’ but says it’s OK to think of the book as ‘a collection of linked short stories, with ...

Reasons for Corbyn

William Davies, 13 July 2017

... digital platform, producing a more diffuse cultural logic. This is manifest in the novels of Karl OveKnausgaard, or Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood, where the ‘big data’ mentality of capturing every biographical detail over time is elevated to an artform. This cultural epoch introduces a distinct set of ...

Writing Machines

Tom McCarthy: On Realism and the Real, 18 December 2014

... in fiction, or reality versus fiction. Take the many articles about the ‘true’ writings of Karl OveKnausgaard, or the huge amount of attention paid to David Shields’s polemic Reality Hunger. Time and again we hear about a new desire for the real, about a realism which is realistic set against an avant-garde ...

It isn’t your home

Toril Moi: Sarraute gets her due, 10 September 2020

Nathalie Sarraute: A Life Between 
by Ann Jefferson.
Princeton, 425 pp., £34, August 2020, 978 0 691 19787 6
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... but knew nothing about the writers who were to bewitch me in the future: writers like W.G. Sebald, Karl OveKnausgaard, Elena Ferrante and Rachel Cusk, and many others. These writers respond to a new craving for reality in literature, a new demand for emotional identification and for an immersion in the world proposed ...

Still messing with our heads

Christopher Clark: Hitler in the Head, 7 November 2019

Hitler: A Life 
by Peter Longerich.
Oxford, 1324 pp., £30, July 2019, 978 0 19 879609 1
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Hitler: Only the World Was Enough 
by Brendan Simms.
Allen Lane, 668 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 1 84614 247 5
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... Something​ very strange happens in the middle of The End, the sixth and last volume of Karl OveKnausgaard’s titanic work of self-description. At around page 482, the book swerves away from scenes of family and social life, and plunges, like a car crashing through a safety barrier, into a prolonged reflection on Adolf Hitler ...

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow, 20 February 2020

... narratives that appear painstakingly to relate the lived experiences of their authors. Karl OveKnausgaard’s My Struggle, the overweight apogee of the form, is grounded in a realism so thoroughgoing and full of circumstantial actuality that we may as well call it ‘punitive realism’. ...

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