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 Indian
The Indian by Jón Gnarr
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

The opening of Jón Gnarr’s novel/memoir The Indian is a playful bit of extravagant ego, telling the traditional story of creation, where the “Let there be light!” moment is also the moment of his birth on January 2nd, 1967. Then. . .

Read More >

Mother of 1084; Old Women; Breast Stories
Mother of 1084; Old Women; Breast Stories by Mahasweta Devi
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .

Read More >

Tristana
Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

The prolific Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós wrote his short novel, Tristana, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a time when very few options were available to women of limited financial means who did not want a husband.. . .

Read More >

The History of Silence
The History of Silence by Pedro Zarraluki
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .

Read More >

Flesh-Coloured Dominoes
Flesh-Coloured Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujiņš
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .

Read More >

Iraqi Nights
Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .

Read More >

Three-Light Years
Three-Light Years by Andrea Canobbio
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .

Read More >

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 >