The first book of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume autobiographical novel My Struggle was published in Norway in 2009 and the final volume in 2011. The books have since sold half a million copies there, a number that represents something like one in ten Norwegians. Still, when the first volume of My Struggle was published in the United States last year, translated by Don Bartlett, it was thanks to a small non-profit in Brooklyn called Archipelago Books, which in turn relied upon the New York state government and charitable foundations to subsidize the effort. Narrated by the author, whose family and friends are the central characters, Mr. Knausgaard’s books recount his life in full, from the most banal memories to the most important events. Upon the publication of Book Two and a paperback reissue of Book One by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Mr. Knausgaard has won a very loyal English-speaking readership. It turns out that assembling IKEA furniture while contemplating the meaninglessness of our lives transcends the boundaries of nationality and language. As Mr. Knausgaard writes, “As is always the case with books that seem to be groundbreaking, they put into words what for me had been suspicions, feelings, hunches.” Read More
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