Questions about precisely what fiction is and how it relates to reality, and the extent to which traditional narrative can be a delivery vehicle for saying something true about life … lie at the intellectual and aesthetic heart of Knausgaard’s huge undertaking.
— Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Times
A purely literary gesture... [Part of] the tradition that justifies Lukács’s definition of the novel as “the epic of a world abandoned by God”... Knausgaard explicitly links this personal struggle with meaninglessness to the larger historical process of secularization.... the result is a book in which contradictions abound, a book with moments of great insight and moments of great banality, a book where one thing often seems to follow another for no reason at all, a book that aggressively courts insignificance.
— Christopher Beha, Harper's Magazine
Knausgaard succeeds in producing prose that is “alive”... Such transgressive blurring of the borders between the public and private, sayable and unsayable, can be both life-affirming and riveting.
— The Economist
As Jeffrey Eugenides so marvelingly put it, [Knausgaard] broke the sound barrier of the autobiographical novel... There’s something primitive and hungry in that experience—and for me, sometimes, something spiritual, close to the experience of grace.
— Charles Finch, Slate
The book’s confrontation with taboo subjects exerts an extraordinary pull on the reader, who is unable to look away and must see how far he will go. Nevertheless, what is perhaps most radical about reading the novel is the feeling of intimacy it creates... What helps give the unwieldy 1,164-page tome some pacing and lightness is the narrator’s charisma and self-deprecating sense of humor. Knausgaard's virtuoso exposition of awkward everyday social interactions is unmatched in contemporary literature.
— Ben Streeter, World Literature Today
For all its complexity, My Struggle achieves something pretty simple, the thing that enduring fiction has always done: it creates a world that absorbs you utterly… [Book Six] is alive.
— Theo Tait, Sunday Times
Compulsively addictive... His way of describing “reality as it is” is to expand the range of thoughts and actions, however mundane or shameful, that a human being will publicly admit to.
— Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph
A uniquely compelling and absorbing reading experience… captivating interplay between banality and beauty, the redundant and the sublime.
— Chris Power, New Statesman
[Book Six] is woven of a man’s love for his family and his obsession with the solitary writing life, the warp and weft of these contradictory passions sometimes meshing together perfectly… My Struggle is a cultural moment worth getting involved in. The six volumes offer something special: total immersion in the soap opera of another person’s life.
— Melissa Katsoulis, The Times
A daring end to a brilliant series... I will read this series again and again.
— William Leith, Evening Standard
It is hard not to be impressed by the fluency and erudition on display as Knausgaard charts his course through history, philosophy, literature and the visual arts… In the end, reality does not break down under Knausgaard’s gaze. We are left instead with the world as it is: the click of a seatbelt, the shock of melted margarine, the centuries slipping away in Rembrandt’s eyes.
— Lorien Kite, Financial Times
My Struggle remains an awesome, or awing, achievement – a deeply personal, revealing work of self-reflection...there is no doubt that it is one the major literary works to have appeared so far in the twenty-first century.
— M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review
At last, the highly anticipated conclusion to Knausgaard's six-part masterwork arrives in English... perhaps most notable about Book Six is a 400-page examination of Hitler, Nazism, and the nature of evil, which draws parallels between Mein Kampf and My Struggle... This uncomfortable comparison simultaneously explodes the purview of what fiction can do while zeroing in on the unique concerns of his narrator. Perhaps the most compelling of this epic's installments, and an undeniably impressive literary accomplishment.
— Diego Báez, Booklist, starred review
Knausgaard explores the various ways language can be leveraged for honest disclosure and tragic nationalism... and whether confessional style can be a force against propagandistic writing... [Book Six] caps a remarkable achievement. For nearly 3,500 pages, Knausgaard has confessed, complained, reminisced, spouted off, made himself look ridiculous, and considered what it means to be candid, giving his life artistic shape while fighting against artifice. The book's very existence has prompted eye-rolls; many of its pages do as well. But his all-in temperament richly rewards anybody who takes first-person writing seriously. A fittingly bulky end to a radical feat of oversharing.
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review
The final book of Knausgaard's six-volume masterpiece goes maximalist and metatextual, examining the impact that the autobiographical series has had on the author's life and the lives of those around him...the rationale for his project comes into brilliant focus. This volume is a thrilling conclusion to Knausgaard's epic series.
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
PRAISE FOR THE MY STRUGGLE SERIES
Who’d have thought that the first monumental literary production of the 21st century ... would seem, on a line-by-line basis, so modest and so raw? The books in the My Struggle series fly high by flying low, by scanning the intricate topography of everyday life.
— Dwight Garner, The New York Times
He's invented a new kind of narration ... The novel imagines a kind of ultimate freedom—a spiritual freedom based in radical openness. It’s expansive and impersonal, yet still human; it’s concrete, anti-ideological, and, above all, emotional. Beyond, alongside, or perhaps within the quest to know oneself, there’s a quest to know the universe.
— Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker
This deserves to be called perhaps the most significant literary enterprise of our times.
— Rachel Cusk, The Guardian
Knausgaard's command of the traditional novelistic procedure is the reason these books are the opposite of dull, though on the face of it they should be. Knausgaard is always spinning a tale, always drawing the reader along with some romantic entanglement, sexual disaster, or emotional crisis. He feeds in atmosphere in just the right amounts; his pacing is flawless. How wonderful to read an experimental novel that fires every nerve ending while summoning in the reader the sheer sense of how amazing it is to be alive, on this planet and no other.
— Jeffrey Eugenides, The New York Times Book Review
Intense and vital . . . Knausgaard is utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties . . . Superb, lingering, celestial passages . . . [with] what Walter Benjamin called the “epic side of truth, wisdom.”
— James Wood, The New Yorker
[G]ut-wrenching ... expressed so openly, so unguardedly, that we are consistently disarmed.
— The Boston Globe
[T]he eerie thing is that, at times, it is as if we are not within the pages of this book at all, but outside it and in his confidence. We understand that [Knausgaard] is ambitious to write a novel that will make his name and we suppress, as we read, the acknowledgment that this achievement, this extraordinary work of which he has been dreaming, is the book we hold in our hands.
— The Guardian
Replicates the vivid, overwhelming sense of being alive on the page . . . We may all be hooked on Karl Ove’s past, his triumphs and disasters, glory and silliness, but his struggle is our struggle, too – for meaning, love, and friendship in a world beautiful and baffling.
— The National
You’d expect this to be boring. It isn’t.
— San Francisco Chronicle
My Struggle is candid and compulsively readable, with moments of searing insight and bold shifts through narrative time. Its scope is both ambitious and modest; its range aggressive and tender.
If the function of literature is to take you out of your own life and involve you in someone else's then My Struggle is literature… gripping.
— The Sunday Times
As the books gradually make their way into English, it isn’t hard to see why. Knausgaard’s brooding Scandinavian obsessiveness has a way of getting under a reader’s skin, not because his life is so exciting and eventful — it isn’t — but because it’s so familiar. He writes a clear prose that transforms ordinary events, detailing the span of his life with such directness that everything seems to be happening in real time.
— Washington Post
Why would you read a six-volume, 3,600-page Norwegian novel about a man writing a six-volume, 3,600-page Norwegian novel? The short answer is that it is breathtakingly good, and so you cannot stop yourself, and would not want to . . . Arrestingly beautiful.
— Leland de la Durantaye, The New York Times Book Review
By exposing every last detail of his life, Karl Ove Knausgaard became your favorite author’s new favorite author.
— Evan Hughes, The New Republic
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.
Knausgaard is no longer “for men” or “for women trying to understand men”: He is for anyone who craves a glimpse of the divine.
— Tess Crain, The New Republic
[O]nce again, Knausgaard’s storytelling is a masterclass in clarity and intensity. The litany of quotidian detail is strangely mesmerising, even gripping ... [My Struggle: Book Five] is a lengthy journey, a bumpy ride full of pitfalls and setbacks, but one that shapes its protagonist and transports its reader. Knausgaard may only present fictionalised events, but on each page, and in every detail, Karl Ove pulses with life.
— The Australian
The experience of reading Karl Ove Knausgaard is an extraordinary one. His eye for detail and for all the little byways of thought and feeling are unsurpassed.
— The Post and Courier
Book 5 [gives us] an uncommonly truthful account of a writer struggling to acquire a language.
— Scott Esposito, The Quarterly Conversation