18 February 10 | E.J. Van Lanen

Last fall at Frankfurt I visited with quite a few Norwegian publishers, and every one of them was talking about Karl Ove Knausgård’s Min Kamp (My Struggle, or Mein Kampf to make the provocation plain), which our good friends at Oktober Forlaget were publishing in six volumes, three in one season and three the next, for a total of over 3,000 pages.

They all struggled to describe the novel, beyond saying that it was an obsessive biography about a man’s relationship to his father. That everyone brought it up, even Oktober’s competitors, was really intriguing, but even we aren’t crazy enough (maybe I shouldn’t speak so soon) to publish a six-volume novel about a man’s relationship to his father, and intrigued as I was I had resigned myself to the fact that the object of my curiosity was likely to remain forever beyond my reach, barring some sort of publishing miracle.

However, thanks to the technological internet-wonders of the Google Alert, I found a little more info about the book on a Swedish blog called Notes from the North, which I have dutifully bookmarked. Here’s a bit from the piece:

The Knausgård hysteria hasn’t spread yet to the East of the Scandinavian mountains but it will in the fall when the books are published in Swedish. I wonder if the book will be as prized for its honesty, but also so despised for certain things it is too honest about. As it’s said, the author reveals a lot, the reviewers, like myself reveal a lot of themselves, and the public reveals a lot when they show such pithy resentment towards literature. It’s nice that books still create a debate though, isn’t it?

I suggest the following. We take Min kamp and its possible interpretations to their logical consequence. Maybe the genius of this work is that the author has gone from being a puncture in the tale to the tale in itself. Isn’t it so that we should read Min kamp as a development of the narrator as the one whose judgment is in question to the narrator who is the one whose questioned judgment pushes the tale on and becomes the tale itself?

So, you can see why I’m so curious, even if it sounds like maybe I ultimately wouldn’t like the novel. If you want to read something by Karl Ove Knausgård, Archipelago published one of his earlier novels, A Time for Everything, last fall.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Little Horse
The Little Horse by Thorvald Steen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .

Read More >

Guys Like Me
Guys Like Me by Dominique Fabre
Reviewed by Peter Biello

We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .

Read More >

Birth of a Bridge
Birth of a Bridge by Maylis de Kerangal
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .

Read More >

Faces in the Crowd
Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli
Reviewed by Valerie Miles

At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .

Read More >

Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia by Julio Cortázar
Reviewed by Cameron Rowe

Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .

Read More >

Self-Portrait in Green
Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .

Read More >

The Madmen of Benghazi
The Madmen of Benghazi by Gerard de Villiers
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .

Read More >

The Four Corners of Palermo
The Four Corners of Palermo by Giuseppe Di Piazza
Reviewed by Patience Haggin

The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .

Read More >

Writers
Writers by Antoine Volodine
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .

Read More >

My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Reviewed by Acacia O'Connor

It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .

Read More >