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My Struggle Book One Paperback – Deckle Edge, April 13, 2012

Book 1 of 2 in the My Struggle Series

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Product Details

  • Series: My Struggle
  • Paperback: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago; Reprint edition (April 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781935744184
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935744184
  • ASIN: 1935744186
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #991,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Steadily absorbing, lit up by pages of startling insight and harrowing honesty, My Struggle introduces into world literature a singular character and immerses us in his fascinating Underground Man consciousness. —Phillip Lopate

Intense and vital . . . So powerfully alive to death . . . Where many contemporary writers would reflexively turn to irony, Knausgaard is intense and utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties. . . The need for totality . . . brings superb, lingering, celestial passages . . . He wants us to inhabit the ordinariness of life, which is sometimes vivid, sometimes banal, and sometimes momentous, but all of it perforce ordinary because it happens in the course of a life, and happens, in different forms, to everyone. . . The concluding sentences of the book [are] placid, plain, achieved. They have what Walter Benjamin called ‘the epic side of truth, wisdom.' —James Wood, The New Yorker

A profusion of quotidian ephemera—from binge drinking to cigarette after cigarette—serves to highlight the incommensurability of death in light of the banality of life...Knausgaard's gorgeous prose and enthralling reflections make this tome a rewarding struggle. —Publishers Weekly

It's a lucky reader who gets buried alive in this Norwegian literary avalanche. [My Struggle] is a free-wheeling, funny, smart, provocative, 471-page chunk of narrative that just keeps on coming. —Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

The level of detail is the main fictioneering touch...but there’s a feeling that something portentous is lurking behind the accumulating descriptions of unremarkable events. —Christopher Tayler, London Review of Books

"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

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. My Struggle has been translated into more than fifteen languages. Knausgaard lives in Sweden with his wife and three children. Don Bartlett has translated dozens of books of various genres, including eight novels and short story collections by Jo Nesbø and It’s Fine by Me by Per Petterson. He lives in Norfolk, England.

Customer Reviews

I read a lot of Norwegian literature in translation and Don Bartlett, the translator, is one of the best.
Amazon Customer
His struggles to balance writing with family life are heartbreaking and anyone with young children will sympathize, though few would state it so bluntly.
This is deeply beautiful work, the authors attention to detail and ability to recall sounds, colors, feelings from distant and nearer past is amazing.
Philip Stout

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

157 of 163 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Knausgård's first volume in his 6 volume My Struggle has finally been published in English. This is one of the most successful books ever published in Norway and deserves a wider audience. Book One introduces us to Knausgård's life with his recollections of his earliest memories through his teenage years. The second half, focused on arranging his father's funeral while finishing his first novel, deals with his complicated relationship and feelings about his very strange and pathetic father.

The series itself is a strange venture. On one level it is simply a memoir by a 40 year old writer who has achieved great acclaim in Norway (but is almost unknown outside the Scandinavian countries). On a more lurid level, it is a "reality show" in book form, its essence being a brutally honest intrusion into the author's life, and more notably, the lives of everyone around him. But the value and genius of this book is that Knausgård has an extraordinary ability to articulate the feelings and perceptions of ordinary people as they live their ordinary lives, make choices, and deal with the consequences of those choices. His self-awareness is refreshing and hilarious. Poetry in prose.

The book was released this morning. I intended to read a few pages this morning, but was unable to put it down. It is that good.

I read a lot of Norwegian literature in translation and Don Bartlett, the translator, is one of the best. He has always impressed me with his focus on retaining the feel of the original language and did a great job with My Struggle.

Here's hoping Book Two is published soon.
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81 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Taylor McNeil on June 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
Novels are often autobiographical, and memoirs usually have as much fiction as fact. So what is Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard's My Struggle? It's clearly his personal story, told in a hyper-realistic manner. When I saw him in conversation with James Wood in September 2012 at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, he said yes, of course this is a novel, not a memoir: he uses the techniques of a novelist. But it's something simpler than that: it's an extremely effective piece of storytelling, the elemental kind that is how we make sense of our lives.

Why should readers care about the story of Karl Ove's life? It's not that it's in any way remarkable, though it certainly has its personal dramas. No, it's the almost guileless realism that drew me in--all the small details that make up our everyday lives that rarely get acknowledged in books, but which completely resonates at some deep inner level. And while there are passages where the writing is plain--no other word for it--often Knausgaard is employing the careful wordcraft of a skilled writer more concerned with telling his story than showing off his chops. In doing so, he gets to the heart of being in all its everyday ordinariness.

Knausgaard spares no one in his family in this portrayal, least of all himself. We see family scenes from his childhood, a long section from his teenage years that's blissfully free of moralizing or wallowing in self pity: it's simply life itself.

But ultimately the book is about death, and what that means for the living. My Struggle opens with a meditation on life's end, and the heart of the book recounts Karl Ove's week after learning of his father's death, most of it spent at his grandmother's fetid home in Kristiansand, a town on the southern coast of Norway.
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41 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Luigi Facotti VINE VOICE on May 31, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Armed with "reviews of the Century" from the New Yorker, The Telegraph and the Economist that by innuendo equate Knausgaard's' magnum opus "My Struggle" with the inimitable Proust, I settled into Vol 1 as a major reading experience with Vol 2 - due to be released next Tuesday - on preorder. Well I tried and tried, there were moments that gave pause for reflection, some that were energetic, some informative of the Scandinavian life style but in general the text is banal and pedantic. The exquisitely detailed and well written paragraph (or was it a half page?) on the rewinding of a video cassette didn't quite hold me spellbound and I had repetitive thoughts that this was not quite the autobiography that it has been cracked up to be. I'll stick with my madeleines and have already canceled the order for Vol 2 - life - apart from Karl Ove's- is far too short.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Charles stringham on July 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I cannot remember in a long lifetime of reading-- well perhaps once, with Robert Waller's The Bridges of Madison County-- a book so extravagantly praised that is as egregiously weak as Knausgaard's My Struggle. Not much relieved by oddly placed philosophical riffs on Death or Art, the narrative proceeds in a workaday recording of the numbingly ordinary milestones in the author's youth and young manhood. It is hard to imagine the accounts of Knausgaard's self conscious longing for a middle school girlfriend or his attempts as a high school boy to drink enough beer at a holiday party interesting even members of his immediate family. The meticulous citing of his and his brother's favorite indie bands is offered as a kind of Rosetta Stone to their deep natures. Marketed as a "novel," I suppose this memoir qualifies as fiction on the grounds that the conversational snippets and obligatory scenic observations cannot possibly have been retrieved from actual memory.: "The egg yolk was runny and lukewarm in my mouth." Fascinating, Karl Ove. My overall sense is of an insufficiently nurtured boy. He is lightly attended by both parents, and his alcoholic and distanced father dies young. The narrator Karl cries a lot as he works desperately to infuse some kind of meaning into his relentlessly uncompelling experiences. One can only wish Knausgaard well in contending with his circumstances, but as either literary fiction or memoir this book is, one would think, unpublishable.
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