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My Struggle: Book Three Hardcover – May 27, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago; Tra edition (May 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935744860
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935744863
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews



"Halfway through, this (six-volume) series is starting to look like an early-21st-century masterpiece." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“My Struggle is a truly original and enduring and great work of literature." -- The New York Times Book Review

"I fell into the first two books of My Struggle as if I were falling into a malarial fever. I did little else for four days except devour them, leaving email unanswered, dogs unwalked, dishes piling up in the sink. The steady headlamps of his prose stun and mesmerize you, as if you were a lumbering mammal caught in the middle of a highway . . . [Knausgaard] is contemporary fiction’s alchemist of the ordinary. . . . This writer is constructing a towering edifice, in what feels like real time. Few artistic projects of our era feel more worth attending to." -- Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"No writer has emerged on the world stage to more acclaim in at least a decade ...  readers of every stripe, it seems, are talking about Knausgaard." -- Evan Hughes, The New Yorker

"He has managed to transform self-abasement into a kind of grandeur, humiliation into a purified form of pride, and—above all—fiction into the most painful mode of truth-telling." -- The Daily Beast

"What's notable is Karl Ove's ability, rare these days, to be fully present in and mindful of his own existence. Every detail is put down without apparent vanity or decoration, as if the writing and the living are happening simultaneously. There shouldn't be anything remarkable about any of it except for the fact that it immerses you totally. You live his life with him. . . . The overweening absurdity of Ove's title is a bad joke that keeps coming back to you as you try to construct a life worthy of an adult. How to be more present, more mindful? Of ourselves, of others? For others?" -- Zadie Smith, The New York Review of Books

"The book investigates the bottomless accumulation of mysteries everyday life imposes. . . Knausgaard's approach is plain and scrupulous, sometimes casual, yet he never writes down. His subject is the beauty and terror of the fact that all life coexists with itself. A living hero who landed on greatness by abandoning every typical literary feint, an emperor whose nakedness surpasses royal finery." -- Jonathan Lethem, The Guardian

"[My Struggle is] a confessional outpouring that became a sensation. . . You imagine yourself as Karl Ove because it’s impossible to get inside anyone else’s head." -- Slate

"This segment of a genre-defying and unusual novel will leave readers hungry for the following installments, and serves as a fine entry point into the series." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Notable for his meticulous attention to the quotidian details of everyday life, Knausgaard’s pared-down style and plainspoken narrator manage to propel these long books, concerned less with sustaining plot than with the accumulation of tiny intensities and candid disclosures, which makes for strangely engaging, compulsively page-turning prose." -- Booklist Online (starred review)

"Both Knausgaard’s Proustian style and the fact that his work is one long book stretched out into many volumes, just like In Search of Lost Time, should signal that it’s a literary event the likes of which we probably will not see again in our lifetimes. . . . Unlike almost every other work of art released in the 21st century, Knausgaard’s massive book is an ongoing cultural event that we’re being afforded the opportunity to savor." -- Jason Diamond, Flavorwire

"...reading My Struggle, you have the sense that Knausgaard has made a wonderful discovery, an almost scientific innovation. My Struggle is something new, something brave..." -- n + 1

"KARL OVE KNAUSGAARD. MY STRUGGLE. It's unbelievable. I just read 200 pages of it and I need the next volume like crack." — Zadie Smith, via Twitter

"Achieves an aching intimacy, one that transcends the personal and makes Knausgaard’s pursuit of grand artistic ideals, his daily joys and misgivings, strangely familiar." — Time Out New York 

"It would not be an exaggeration to say that Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume memoir “My Struggle” (Archipelago Books) — of which three volumes have been translated into English — has catapulted the Norwegian writer into the rarefied company of such authors as James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Henry Miller. These writers burst forth with a new consciousness and in so doing became the voice of their generation. Years hence we will be talking about Knausgaard’s incredibly detailed memoir cycle doing the same for the late 20th century." — The Providence Journal

"A six-volume literary experiment in which a contemporary Norwegian author describes his own life may sound dull. But Knausgaard's literary experiment is both brutally honest and far from dull. Trust me, it'll be worth waiting for volumes three through six to appear in English translation." — Jo Nesbo, in The Week (one of Jo Nesbo's six favorite books)

"MY STRUGGLE is a revolutionary novel that is highly approachable, even thrilling to read. The book feels like a masterpiece––one of those genuinely surprising works that alters the tradition it inherited." — Bookforum

" Knausgaard's poised to become a true global sensation
...there is an utterly unique genius to the books." — The Christian Science Monitor

"Boyhood, so little given to evaluation, assessment, or argumentation, is instead a study of immersion. It is a pure-state immersion: not immersion in something, not a study of something, but immersion per se. With a nod to Roland Barthes’s dream of a language returned to its simplest, Adamic roots, we might call this immersion degree zero, a similarly paradisiacal (or childlike) fantasy. It is the function of the novel as a genre stripped to its barest essential. Little in Boyhood is allowed to get in the way of that goal. Not the prose, which in Don Bartlett’s translation is as swift and unornamented and unmannered as possible, as if aiming for pure continuation and sequence, as if driven by an almost childlike desire to keep moving to the next thing. Not the narrative rhythm, in which the sheer mass of a few random childhood days exerts a gravitational pull that distends and stretches into a time almost equivalent to the time of reading itself...Glistening surfaces, constantly in the act of opening up—and always, as a result, transfixing." - Nicholas Dames, Public Books

“My Struggle
is a book so private it feels like a sanctuary. . . [Knausgaard is] the great chronicler of the modern condition." — Ian Brown, The Globe and Mail

“One of the most anticipated books of the year (or the decade).” — Financial Times (UK)

 "[Knausgaard is] one of the most remarkable authors who have emerged in recent years … he is in the process of becoming a global superstar."  The Economist (UK)

 "Via his visceral, immersive art, Knausgaard makes the heart visible as he conjures 'the intensity that only exists in childhood'." The Independent (UK)

"A compelling memoir of times we cannot know." — The London Evening Standard

 "an immediacy as astonishing as that of its two predecessors. . . . In Don Bartlett’s lively vernacular translation, My Struggle will, I am convinced, outlive the furore, welcoming or hostile, of its first appearance." — Paul Binding, The Spectator (UK)

“extreme artlessness creates a far more intense realism than we might have thought possible, a confessional novel that outdoes most confessions.” — Times Literary Supplement (UK)

 "...With each subsequent book of his that is translated into English, Mr. Knausgaard continues to solidify his reputation as one of the most vital writers working today."  The Observer

"It would be wrong to suggest that Karl Ove is just an Everyman-plus-shading, and that Knausgaard has simply lucked out. Historical factors may account for why My Struggle has become a “phenomenon” but they can neither explain nor dilute the novels’ richness. Yes, Knausgaard appeals to the modern appetite for warty portraiture and off-page bust-ups and has chronicled middle-class Norwegian life during the country’s “exceptionalist” phase. To a loud anglophone minority, he constitutes a thrillingly boring alternative to boringly diverting invention. But he also displays a tremendous and irreducible zeal for penetrating what Karl Ove, reeling after a date with Linda, calls “the inner core of human existence” – an effort that brings fame to some but not others, and in which he has no obvious superiors among the writers now available to an English-reading public."  The New Statesman

"MY STRUGGLE is a revolutionary novel that is highly approachable, even thrilling to read. The book feels like a masterpiece––one of those genuinely surprising works that alters the tradition it inherited. . . . What makes MY STRUGGLE so hypnotizing––a word more than one reviewer has used to describe it––is in part the pleasurable surprise of seeing habits of mind (your apathy at a dinner party, or envy of a friend's tracksuit, or momentary frustration with your partner) that normally go unrecorded put down in exhaustive detail. But it's also the interplay between those lengthy, hyperrealistic scenes of everyday experience and what are in effect meditative essays." — Meghan O'Rourke, Bookforum

"Though a boyhood so honestly rendered cannot claim the title of 'innocence,' it can be termed wondrous." — AskMen

"When Knaugaard writes about culture and art, his observations are transcendent; not only has he fully digested what he has seen and read, his references fit seamlessly. . . This is quintessential Knausgaard: a complexity of ideas generated out of true observation. . . relentless, fascinating and unflagging self-scrutiny." —The Rumpus
"While many are busy bemoaning the death of bookshops and literature, Knausgaard is a surprising, relieving phenomenon that is sweeping the world. . . [he is] undoubtedly the literary star of the moment."Outlook India

About the Author

Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Norway in 1968. His debut novel Out of This World won the Norwegian Critics Prize in 2004 and his A Time for Everything (Archipelago) was a finalist for the Nordic Council Prize. For My Struggle, Knausgaard received the Brage Award in 2009 (for Book One), the 2010 Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, and the P2 Listeners' Prize. It is also a finalist for The Believer Fiction Prize. My Struggle has been translated into more than fifiteen languages. Knausgaard lives in Sweden with his wife and three children. The author lives in Sweden.

Customer Reviews

Knausgaard's writing is truly amazing.
J. Rice
The first Knausgaard book I read was Volume One because, I thought it would be best to start with number one, and because number three had not yet been published.
Another avid reader
I read the prior two Knausgaard books and liked them a lot though I would go through some stretches where they seemed tedious to me.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Tony Covatta on June 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Volume three of Knaussgard's six volume work, three now released in English, three to go, bears many similarities to the first two volumes, but yet is somewhat different, probably because of the subject years.

In this book, Karl Ove recounts the seven early years he spent on a small island off the coast of Norway with his mother and father and his older brother Yngve. The jumbled time shifts in the other volumes are gone for the most part as the story recounts pretty straight forwardly the boy's growth from age six or so to thirteen.

The narrative consists of factual recountings of Karl Ove's interactions with his family and friends, and focuses most closely on his very problematic relationship with his stiff, forbidding and tortured father. There is very little moralizing of the subject matter, as a George Eliot or a Dickens might do. Instead Knaussgard sticks closely to the facts of the situation which he recounts in clear, precise and fluid fashion. The translation, by Don Bartlett, is sure and supple. The prose reads cleanly and flows easily. Probably because of the early years being dealt with, there is very little of the philosophizing and literary and other art criticism that gave additional depth to the first two books. This volume is more in the early 20th century realistic tradition.

What emerges is a portrait of a young boy paralyzed with fear of a very dominant and distant father. Moreover, Karl Ove is easy to dislike, as he does not shy away from giving us details of every embarrassing moment he ever experienced. We see a fearful, tearful child struggling to fit in with his peers, as he comes to terms with his own androgynous nature. He is obsessed with growing sexual feelings even as he discovers his own interest in fashion, shape and color.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gary A Dallmann on August 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The trouble with such stunning writing is that it sets too high a benchmark. I've tried unsuccessfully to enjoy a couple novels since finishing "My Struggle Book Three." I'm reading only nonfiction now. Like fish hooks, the vignettes that comprise the book seem attached to my soul. Maybe I should review this book in a year, but I want to encourage others to enjoy it as much as I have.

Knausgaard's writing is blatantly honesty and strikingly direct. His provision of essential, easily omitted, detail compelled me to participate vicariously in his stories. I was with his group of young boys searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That was fun. I was with him with his father. That wasn't fun. I haven't figured out how the author writes so factually but is somehow able to stir the full range of my emotions. Everything is here in these simple,every-day events: joy and fear, hate and love; hope and despair; intrigue and innocence.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Another avid reader on June 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was introduced to Knausgaard through a short story, "Come Together," published in The New Yorker in Spring 2014. As I later found out the story has been put together from excerpts from this book, Volume Three and will give you a nice-size sample of his writing if you're deciding whether to buy this book.

The first Knausgaard book I read was Volume One because, I thought it would be best to start with number one, and because number three had not yet been published. I suggest you begin with volume three, because it covers his childhood and it will help you understand the author's relationship with his father, whom he discusses in Volume One. I'm ordering Volume 2 but haven't read it yet. Vols. 4, 5 and 6 have not yet been translated at the time I write this, though they may have been by the time you read this.

Vol. 2 covers the author's life from ages 7 through 13 and a half. This is such an excellent book that I dreaded that it would soon come to an end, and I hope there is a sequel dealing with his adolescence. I also wish he would have written more about the later years, since of the book's 400+ pages, approximately the first 200 cover age 7, the next 100 or so age 9, and then ages 10 to 13.5 are covered only in 100 pages.

He's been compared to Proust because of his attention to detail and the clarity of his descriptions. Having read the entire 3,100+ pages of Proust's Search for Lost Time (also known as Remembrance of Things Past) I believe the major difference is that Proust overdoes the description of insignificant details, has long lists of the etymology of place names, and if I may say so, Proust's work would benefit by excising a significant part. Proust's work was often something I had to plod through and force myself to read, like a dull textbook.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tailwinds Press on November 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A review of Books 1-3 by Tailwinds Press. Check us out at

“A life is simple to understand,” Karl Ove Knausgaard declares in the second volume of My Struggle, “the elements that determine it are few.” Thousands of pages later, it seems that this reductionist aphorism was most likely a joke. The complete account of Knausgaard’s life so far—an excruciatingly detailed, introspective warts-and-all expose of everyday life in Norway and Sweden, as lived by a blue-eyed Gen-X male from Southern Norway—clocks in at over 3500 pages. The small conundrums of Knausgaard’s life pale beside the larger enigma of educated readers in Western industrialized countries: for some reason, a quasi-fictive memoir written by an occasional stay-at-home dad which devotes countless pages to the onerous social obligations presented by his kids’ birthday parties, the various hygiene failings of his vodka-sipping grandma’s house near Kristiansand, and the Byzantine intricacies of Stockholm’s apartment rental market, sells surprisingly well. It’s been reported that one out of every ten Norwegians have, if not read, at least purchased the book. Ever since Brooklyn-based Archipelago Press published the first English language version of Book One in 2012, American critics have awaited each new installment of Knausgaard’s maybe-life story with baited breath.

Is the cheap thrill of carrying a book called My Struggle on the subway really going to get you through a six-volume tome? Probably not, unless you love the idea of seeing how Scandinavians outside of Ikea catalogues really live.
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