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My Struggle: Book One

by

Translated from by

Published: Paperback Edition: May 2012
Special Hardcover Edition: January 2014

$27.00 $21.60

ISBN: 9780914671008
    Hardcover

Winner of the Brage Award, the Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, the P2 Listeners’ Prize, and the Norwegian Critics’ Prize

Nominated for the Nordic Council Literary Prize

“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 ephemerafrom binge drinking to cigarette after cigaretteserves 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

 

Book Description

  • Winner of the Brage Award, the Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, the P2 Listeners’ Prize, and the Norwegian Critics’ Prize
  • Nominated for the Nordic Council Literary Prize

A Norwegian Marcel Proust. This nerve-striking, addictive piece of hyper-realism, by the Norwegian Critics’ Prize-winning author of A Time For Everything, has created a phenomenon throughout Scandinavia. Click here to read The New Republic’s profile of Knausgaard & the My Struggle series. Almost ten years have passed since Karl Ove Knausgaard’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 to 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.

Knausgaard has written one of those books so aesthetically forceful as to be revolutionary.

Jesse Barron, The Paris Review


What’s notable is Karl Ove’s ability, rare these days, to be fully present in and mindful of his own existence. Every detail is put down without apparent vanity or decoration, as if the writing and the living are happening simultaneously. There shouldn’t be anything remarkable about any of it except for the fact that it immerses you totally. You live his life with him.

Zadie Smith, New York Review of Books


My Struggle teems with... "sensory bridges" that interweave description and reflection in an unaffected yet poetic fashion. Out of the ashes of his childhood and the cooling cinders of his youth, Knausgaard has fashioned a memoir that burns with the heat of life.

Christopher Byrd, Barnes & Noble Review


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.

Publisher's Weekly


Both Knausgaard’s Proustian style and the fact that his work is one long book stretched out into many volumes, just like In Search of Lost Time, should signal that it’s a literary event the likes of which we probably will not see again in our lifetimes...Unlike almost every other work of art released in the 21st century, Knausgaard’s massive book is an ongoing cultural event that we’re being afforded the opportunity to savor.

Jason Diamon, Flavorwire


My Struggle is unexpectedly entrancing—the combination of detail and intimacy creates an illusion of being inside somebody else’s brain...My Struggle is worth the, uh, struggle.

GQ


...With each subsequent book of his that is translated into English, Mr. Knausgaard continues to solidify his reputation as one of the most vital writers working today.

The Observer (UK)


...free-form, fear-filled, densely descriptive…Norway’s biggest literary star since Ibsen

New Statesmen (UK)


My Struggle is already the most significant literary achievement of the 21st century and we still have three volumes to go.

Sunday Express (UK)


The locations and details may be unique, but it is Knausgaard’s gift to make of this unsparing specificity something universal.

The Times (UK)


The argument in this death of the essay essay is false but [rings] true. Like crying real tears at a convenient moment to avoid trouble but out of genuine sadness. I've been reading My Struggle by Karl Knausgaard which confronts this problem head-on. It's devastating. There is nothing the New Republic (or Slate) can run that could have this kind of effect on literature....one of the larger [literary] debates...is the debate of memoir vs. fiction. And Knausgaard fire bombs that entire conversation into the 18th century.

Stephen Elliott, The Rumpus


Complex, abundant, shocking.

Aftenposten


A rare achievement. No one in his generation equals Knausgaard's combination of talent, style, observational skills, and original thinking.

Dagens Naeringsliv


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


'I wanted to open the world by writing,' he says, and to seal in words those 'sudden states of clear-sightedness' that rescue reality for a hyper-intellectual era, 'enclosed around itself, enclosed around us.' Karl Ove seeks, as Nordic visionaries often have, the 'beyond': this book's refrain. And for wealthy, protected Westerners, 'death is the great beyond' - the last taboo, the ultimate truth. If you wished to classify Knausgaard's rhapsodic pursuit of everyday transcendence, you might label it Mortuary Realism. Death makes existence mean and matter. Sometimes overblown, quite often as sublime as its author hoped, this first installment of an epic quest should restore jaded readers to life.

Boyd Tonkin, The Independent


``My Struggle: Book Two: Man in Love'' by Karl Ove Knausgaard: There will be six volumes in total. Quite simply this is one of the best novels ever written.

Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution


Painful, touching, honest, and full of insight... It's like Knausgaard turns himself inside out and shows that side of himself that no man ever shows to anyone.

Zin Magazine (Netherlands)


This autobiographical novel sneaks up on you and gets under your skin. The 43-year-old Norwegian describes his inner battles in a unique and painfully accurate way. What a beautiful novel.

Esta (Netherlands)


Karl Ove Knausgaard achieved a huge success with his autobiographical series of novels.

De Morgen (Netherlands)


A literary rock star... An unprecedented literary project.

HP/DeTijd (Netherlands)


Knausgaard hits bull's eye with his autobiographical novel, My Struggle.

Trouw (Netherlands)


Certainly, Knuasgaard's strength lies in his detailed descriptions of nature and the human psyche. But it is the gravity and truth occurring between the lines that makes this text authentic and necessary.

WUZ (Italy)


Knausgaard has thrown himself into an insane project, with a disdain for conventions that only true geniuses are able to obtain... My Struggle is a literary victory.

Affari italiani (Italy)


This is a deeply touching book, free of taboos, its evocative descriptions bombarding the reader with questions.

NDR Kultur (Germany)


Karl Ove Knausgaard's sentences have a magical pull that is difficult to escape.

NDR 90.3 (Germany)


In his rendering of factual events, Knausgaard is a consistently realistic narrator. His reflections, on the other hand, are of seething intelligence and have an almost hypnotic effect.

WDR 5 (Germany)


Knausgaard's thinking is magnificently unbridled.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany)


The personal material is a rope around the neck, a knife in the heart. Nevertheless, the book is so full of magic... My Struggle is fierce and clever, and a fiercely clever read.

Kristeligt Dagblad (Denmark)


Knausgaard is a remarkable storyteller, who in flashes of memory staurated in emotion, breathes life into the traumas of the past... A shockingly good book.

Ekstra bladet (Denmark)


The further into this work you get... the more it strikes you what a thought-through and devious work this is.

Weekendavisen (Denmark)


The Norwegian public have fallen on their knees in awe for this ambitious author, and with good reason... Knausgaard's realism and literary skills are... raw and fearless.

Information (Denmark)


Knausgaard's sharp pen cuts deeply. However we, those who are not involved, can be nothing but delighted by how masterfully Knausgaard succeeds in creating a work of art out of what is personal and private.

Berlingske Tidende (Denmark)


Knausgaard's novel is a pure delight to read... We are talking here of literature: essays, reminiscences and fiction of the finest kind.

Politiken (Denmark)


One can say with quiet confidence that Knausgaard's third novel, My Struggle, is an historic novel... Like other reviewers before me, I shower it with superlatives and award six stars after reading the first installment.

Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)


Knausgaard is huge, not only in the number of pages, but as a writer and a researcher of mood.

Politiken (Denmark)


One can say with quiet confidence that Knausgaard's third novel, My Struggle, is an historic novel... Like other reviewers before me, I shower it with superlatives and award six stars after reading the first installment.

Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)


Knausgaard's hypnotic flow has such haunting qualities... is so consumed by its ambition to reach the core of existence through writing, that I absolutely have to read the [rest].

Expressen (Sweden)


The vast majority of novels are competently written. Then there are a number that are really good. And finally there are a few that are unnerving, completely engrossing, artistic experiences. Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle is in the final category.

Goteborgs-Posten (Sweden)


A very promising struggle... You are not many pages into the first volume before the narrator hooks you in—without you even really noticing it.

Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)


Autobiographical or not, Knausgaard depicts his upbringing and human understanding with great literary qualities.

Mari Nymoen Nilsen, VG (Norway)


Knausgaard's crazy six-volume project begins in the best possible way.

Morten Abrahamsen, VG (Norway)


An absolutely unique reading experience, written with intensity and ambition.

Guri Hjeltnes, VG (Norway)


A fantastic, trailblazing literary project!

Ingvar Ambjorsen, VG (Norway)


An obsessive reading experience surpassing most others in its ambition and execution.

Ane Farsethas, Dagens Naeringsliv (Norway)


The obvious Norwegian number one of the year will, with his definitive 'masterpiece of reality', make a deeper impression than most others this decade.

Per Kristian Bjorkeng, Afenposten (Norway)


Brilliant start to a giant autobiographical novel cycle.... The whole concept is horrendously risky, but on the page Knausgaard transforms this risk into tension of the most outstanding character.

Ingunn Okland, Afenposten (Norway)


Many people have read My Struggle in the same way as we watch television series: insatiable, in continuous fresh helpings, imprinted on our own daily lives day by day, month by month... There are still new ways for literature to exist in the world.

Trygve Riiser Gunderson, Dagbladet (Norway)


Neither surpassed nor equaled... Beautiful prose and profound humanity.

Kaare Bulie, The Critics' Favorites of 2009, Dagbladet (Norway)


My Struggle is an immensely comprehensive, well-written exposure of the author's personal life and an existential literary experiment without parallel in Norwegian literature... Knausgaard writes about the contemporary collective repression of death, and he succeeds exceptionally well.

Klassekampen (Norway)


[My Struggle] is simultaneously so painful and of such sensationally high literary quality that it further illustrates what an unrivalled position Knausgaard occupies in contemporary Norwegian literature.

Kulturtips, Dagbladet (Norway)


Knausgaard takes a chance and succeeds in writing about his subject matter as though he is the very first person to write about it... An author with such colossal ambitions, and such great talent to live up to them.

Morgenbladet (Norway)


Knausgaard's intense, hungry prose propels the reader forward... A fantastic novel... I cannot say anything other than that I am looking forward desperately to the rest of it.

Dagsavisen (Norway)


The most important question is: after reading the first 450 pages of Karl Ove Knausgaard's 2,700-page novel based on his own life, do you want more? The answer: YES!

Dagbladet (Norway)


A relentless book, that embellishes nothing, but also a sincere quest, which proves that raw life, if told well, can yield a beautiful story.

de Volkskrant (Netherlands)


Knausgaard writes enormously well. He writes with intensity and presence … The author has a remarkable ability to make seemingly trivial and boring matters glow.

Hufvudstadsbladet (Sweden)


Between Proust and the woods — allow yourselves to be seduced by a Norwegian life […] Like granite; precise and forceful. More real than reality.

La Repubblica (Italy)


I can't stop, I want to stop, I can't stop, just one more page, then I will cook dinner, just one more page...

Vasterbottens-kuriren, Sweden


A tremendous piece of literature.

Politken (Denmark)


A rare achievement. No one in his generation equals Knausgaard's combination of talent, style, observational skills, and original thinking.

Dagens Naeringsliv


Complex, abundant, shocking.

Aftenposten


The latest hot Scandinavian literary import.

Washington Post


Knausgaard perfectly fuses teenage self-aggrandizement with adult regret and reminiscence: this balancing will be considered nothing short of legendary once the smoke around My Struggle settles and Knausgaard finds his place among the literary greats of this past century.

About.com


Min Kamp (My Struggle), captures the pulse and tempo of being alive. Starfish-like, Knausgaard wraps his mind around a thousand remembered moments and pulls them back into the great gut of his autobiographical novel. The ambition is enormous, and the work follows through on it.

Harvard Review Online


Knausgaard’s six-volume memoir...has catapulted the Norwegian writer into the rarefied company of such authors as James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Henry Miller. These writers burst forth with a new consciousness and in so doing became the voice of their generation. Years hence we will be talking about Knausgaard’s incredibly detailed memoir cycle doing the same for the late 20th century.

Providence Journal


[My Struggle is] just there, one of those books that changes human perspective in a subterranean way, but won’t really sell. It will be a basic text of influence. It’s biblical.

Heather Mallick, The Toronto Star


He is surely the most celebrated prisoner of passion in our time

Open Letters Monthly


A simple and surprising effort to capture everyday life that rewards the time given to it.

Kirkus (Starred Review)


The Economist interviews Karl Ove Knausgaard: An interview with translator Don Bartlett in World Literature Today. A profile of Knausgaard in The Observer. Knausgaard reads from Book One of his My Struggle. http://youtu.be/1ODhM41VOYg Watch Knausgaard in a fantastic Dutch interview here. “Completely Without Dignity: An Interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard” on The Paris Review Daily. Read Daniel Fraser’s interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard in 3:AM Magazine here. Listen to an interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard on ABC Radio Australia. Listen to the songs that Knausgaard listens to throughout My Struggle. Watch Knausgaard’s conversation with Siri Hustvedt at the NYC launch event. http://youtu.be/bPMKMnTlQvI Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard discusses his book My Struggle. Almost ten years have passed since Karl O. Knausgaard’s father drank himself to death, and Knausgaard probes into his past, dissecting struggles—great and small—with great candor and vitality. Watch Karl Ove Knausgaard’s interview on Book Case TV. “First the Nightmare, Then the News” by Karl Ove Knausgaard in The New York Times “The Magical Realism of Norwegian Nights” by Karl Ove Knausgaard in The New York Times My Struggle Books 1, 2, and 3 Reading Guide

Read Part One of William Pierce’s  “Reality Hunger: The Six Books of Karl Ove Knausgaard” at The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Read the Toronto Star’s piece on Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard

Translator Don Bartlett discusses Knausgaard, process, and “the anglo-bubble” in this interview with the LA Review of Books.