Last time, I wrote a few lines about the latest Booker prize winner; this week it’s another writer who might, one day, find himself in the frame.
Karl Ove Knausgaard is a Norwegian author who has become something of a literary sensation. His My Struggle series, a cycle of novels that appears to take the author’s own autobiography as its subject, is being translated into English by Don Bartlett, who is also responsible for the Harry Hole series.
Both have proved runaway successes.
When Knausgaard’s novels were first published in Norway, I read to my amusement, employers were obliged to hold “Knausgaard free days” where workers were forbidden from discussing the author’s books. If the cycle hasn’t found quite that acclaim in the UK, there are nevertheless thousands of people eagerly anticipating the translation of the fifth book.
I have just finished reading the first. It’s almost impossible to say why it’s so good. At times it is very dull, but somehow mesmerisingly so. How many books have you read that narrate an underage expedition to buy beer over sixty pages? Hmmm. Thought not.
Knausgaard leaves the reader feeling intrigued by the minutiae of everyday life, details we should be so familiar with that to see them on the page ought not to inspire feelings of devotion. But somehow they do. The book resonates on almost every level, whether it’s the author losing his father as an adult or trying desperately to fit in as a teenager.
Quite simply, it’s life in a book, warts and all. Roll on part two.