Karl Ove Knausgård
Karl Ove Knausgård 2011
|Born||6 December 1968|
|Alma mater||University of Bergen|
Knausgård made his publishing debut in 1998 with the novel Out of the World, for which he was awarded the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature. This was the first time in the award's history that a debut novel had won.
His second novel, A Time for Everything (2004), partly retells certain parts of the Bible as well as the history of angels on earth. The book won a number of awards, and was nominated for the Nordic Council's Literature Prize. It was also nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award. It has been called a "strange, uneven, and marvelous book" by The New York Review of Books.
While Knausgård´s two first books were well received, it was the six-volume Min Kamp series of autobiographical novels that made Knausgård a household name in Norway. Published from 2009 to 2011 and totaling over 3,500 pages, the books were hugely successful and also caused much controversy. The controversy was caused partly because the Norwegian title of the book, Min Kamp, is the same as the Norwegian title of Hitler's Mein Kampf, and partly because some have suggested Knausgård goes too far in exposing the private lives of his friends and family--including his father, ex-wife, uncle, and grandmother. The books have nevertheless received almost universally favorable reviews, in particular, the first two volumes. Even before the final book's publication, they were one of the greatest publishing phenomena in Norway ever. In a country of five million people, the Min Kamp series has sold over 450,000 copies.
In a radio interview with his estranged ex-wife, Tonje Aursland, who plays a part in several of the Min Kamp books, Knausgård admitted that he sometimes feels that he has made a "Faustian bargain"--that he has achieved huge success by sacrificing his relationships with friends and members of his family. In October 2010, Aursland presented her perspective on involuntarily becoming a subject of her ex-husband's autobiography in a radio documentary broadcast on NRK. Knausgård's uncle, who is represented as Gunnar in the Min Kamp books, has been highly critical of the whole project in the Norwegian press.
The Min Kamp series is currently being translated into numerous languages. The earliest books have already been published to great critical acclaim in Denmark, Sweden, and several other countries. All six have been translated into English by Don Bartlett for publication by Archipelago Books (US) and Harvill Secker (UK), and have been retitled in Britain as A Death in the Family, A Man in Love, Boyhood Island, Dancing in the Dark, Some Rain Must Fall, and The End (The End translated by Bartlett and Martin Aitken). In a long and largely positive review of the first Min Kamp books, James Wood of The New Yorker wrote that "There is something ceaselessly compelling about Knausgård's book: even when I was bored, I was interested." In a review of Book 2: A Man in Love in The New York Times, Leland de la Durantaye called the My Struggle series "breathtakingly good" and compared it to Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. In a review of Book 3: Boyhood Island in the Times Literary Supplement, Thomas Meaney reflected on the differences between Proust and Knausgård, and wrote about the philosophy behind the Min Kamp books. Joshua Rothman notes in his article in The New Yorker that "In previous volumes, we've watched a younger Karl Ove struggle to absorb his father's dark energies. In the new volume, his dad is no longer abusive." However, in an interview with Andrew O'Hagan, Knausgaard has said that writing My Struggle has not helped him in conquering his fear of his father. Frenchculture.org website noted that, even though Knausgård was called the "Norwegian Proust", the first volume sold very few copies in France, probably because the strong French tradition of autofiction makes the book look less original than it appears in the US.
Liesl Schillinger further explains the uniqueness in Knausgård's writing for even his own culture, stating in her Wall Street Journal profile piece:
Lorin Stein observes:
Knausgård served as a consultant to the new Norwegian translation of the Bible. In 2013, he published a collection of essays, Sjelens Amerika: tekster 1996-2013 ("The Soul's [or Mind's] America: Writings 1996-2013"), and as of September 2013 he is adapting his novel Out of the World into a screenplay.
Between 1999 and 2002 Knausgård was co-editor of Vagant, a Norwegian literary magazine founded in 1988. He was part of the first editorial team of Vagant in Bergen; until 1999 the magazine had been based in Oslo. Knausgård contributed essays about the writings of Don DeLillo and The Divine Comedy by Dante. He also conducted in-depth interviews with the Norwegian writers Rune Christiansen and Thure Erik Lund for the magazine. Just after he left Vagant and Bergen, his former co-editor Preben Jordal wrote a very negative review of Knausgård's second novel in the magazine, with the title «Mellom Bibel og babbel» ("Between the Bible and babble")--an episode discussed in the second volume of Min Kamp.
In 2010, he founded a small but eclectic publishing house, Pelikanen (Pelican), with his brother Yngve Knausgård and Asbjørn Jensen. Pelikanen has so far published Denis Johnson, Peter Handke, Christian Kracht, Ben Marcus, Curzio Malaparte and Stig Larsson in Norwegian translations.