I’m the Book: Karl Ove Knausgaard

karl ove knausgaardNorwegians were lucky to have read local boy Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-part autobiographical novel, My Struggle, years earlier. His fans who read him in English—and that includes writers and critics the world over—have so far read only the first three volumes of his much celebrated work. As the fourth instalment, Dancing in the Dark, hits the stands, he has already transformed himself from a national obsession to a global rock star of a writer: The New York Times recently relaunched its magazine with his mighty travel essay, titled My Saga, as its centerpiece, where the writer is on the road, tracing the route taken by Viking explorers of yore in North America.

The various parts of the 3,600-plus-page series are not in any chronological order. The first part, A Death in the Family, is about the death of his father, who took to drink after his divorce with his mother. The second volume, A Man in Love, is about his failed first marriage (of course, his first wife had a different version to tell the media). The third, Boyhood Island, the translation of which came out last summer, is about his childhood memories, fun, anxieties of early love, school fights and so on.

In this part, too, he retains his unique storytelling style, hinged on his photographic memory, with enormous ease. His narrative, as usual, is marked by its innumerable digressions and attention to mundane details like sipping beer or lighting a cigarette, puking to exhaustion, getting blacked out, slouching into his couch, yanking his furious thoughts into his typewriter, and other such everyday things. Only, when put together by the genius that he is, clichés cease to be clichés.

Read the rest of the book review at Open magazine.

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