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.


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