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Karl Ove Knausgård

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Karl Ove Knausgård
Knausgård in 2011
Knausgård in 2011
Born (1968-12-06) 6 December 1968 (age 55)
Oslo, Norway
OccupationAuthor, novelist
Alma materUniversity of Bergen
GenreFiction, memoir
Notable worksMy Struggle (Min Kamp)
SpousesTonje Aursland (1995–2004)[1]
Linda Boström Knausgård (−2016)[1]
Michal Shavit[2]

Karl Ove Knausgård (Norwegian: [kɑːl ˈûːvə ˈknæ̂ʉsɡoːr]; born 6 December 1968) is a Norwegian author. He became known worldwide for a series of six autobiographical novels titled My Struggle (Min Kamp).[3] The Wall Street Journal has described him as "one of the 21st century's greatest literary sensations".[4]

Since the completion of the My Struggle series in 2011, he has also published an autobiographical series entitled The Seasons Quartet, as well as critical work on the art of Edvard Munch. Knausgård has won the 2009 Brage Prize, 2017 Jerusalem Prize, and 2019 Swedish Academy Nordic Prize.



Born in Oslo, Norway, Knausgård was raised on Tromøya in Arendal and in Kristiansand, and studied arts and literature at the University of Bergen. He then held various jobs, including teaching high school in northern Norway, selling cassettes, working in a psychiatric hospital [5] and on an oil platform, while trying to become a writer. He eventually moved to Stockholm, Sweden, and published his first novel in 1998.[6]

Literary career


Debut and follow-up


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.[7]

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 was called a "strange, uneven, and marvelous book" by The New York Review of Books.[8]

The Min Kamp 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 totalling over 3,500 pages, the books were hugely successful and also caused much controversy.[7][9] 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 favourable reviews, at least the first two volumes. In a country of five million people, the Min Kamp series has sold over 450,000 copies.[10]

The Min Kamp series is translated into numerous languages. The books were published to great critical acclaim in Denmark,[11] Sweden,[10] 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). The audiobooks of the English translations were recorded by Edoardo Ballerini.[12]

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."[13]

Later works


Knausgård served as a consultant to the new Norwegian translation of the Bible.[14] 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.[15]

Between 2015 and 2016, Knausgaard published his Seasons Quartet, a series of four books entitled Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer. These books are also autobiographical in nature, consisting of diary excerpts, letters, and other personal materials. These books were released in English between 2017 and 2018.

Knausgaard has also written works devoted to the visual arts. He co-authored Anselm Kiefer: Transition from Cool to Warm, a book in 2018 on the German artist Anselm Kiefer with James Lawrence.[16] In 2019, Knausgaard published a monograph on the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, and his interview about Munch also appeared as a highlight of the British Museum's 2019 exhibition catalogue, Edvard Munch: Love and Angst, by curator Giulia Bartrum.[17]

In October 2019 Knausgård became the sixth writer chosen to contribute to the Future Library project.[18]

Knausgård's essay collection, In the Land of the Cyclops (2018), was first published in English in January 2021.[19]

Novel series 2020–2023


In September 2020 Knausgård's novel Morgenstjernen ("The Morning Star"), a story about a number of peoples' everyday life in southern Norway while a mysteriously bright star appears in the sky, was published to critical acclaim in Norway.[20] Danish and Swedish translations were published a few months later to great critical acclaim.[21][22] It was sold in advance to fifteen countries.[21] In 2021, the novel was listed by the New York Times as one of the notable books of the year.[23]

In 2021, Ulvene fra evighetens skog (English translation The Wolves of Eternity, 2023), a sequel to Morgenstjernen mainly set in the 1980s that portrays two estranged half-siblings in Norway and the Soviet Union, was published in Norway.[24] The longest novel in the series and dealing with many questions, it prompted some critics to compare it to a 19th century Russian novel.[25] A third book in the series with the title Det tredje riket (English translation The Third Realm, due October 2024) followed in 2022.[26][27] A fourth book, Nattskolen, was published (in Norwegian) in October 2023.[28][29]

Critical reception


Following the publication of Min kamp, Knausgård has been described as "one of the 21st century's greatest literary sensations" by the Wall Street Journal.[4][30] Some consider him the greatest Norwegian writer since playwright Henrik Ibsen. His deliberately prolix and minutely detailed style drew comparison to that of French novelist Marcel Proust and his seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time.[31]

Knausgård's 2020 novel The Morning Star was a critical success in Scandinavia.[21] While reviewers of the English translation of the novel were more ambivalent, Knausgård was acknowledged as "one of the finest writers alive" by Dwight Garner in New York Times and "a writer of supreme interest" by Charles Arrowsmith in Los Angeles Times.[32]

Editing career


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.

Publishing career


In 2010, he founded a small, eclectic publishing house, Pelikanen (Pelican), with his brother Yngve Knausgård and Asbjørn Jensen.[33] Pelikanen has so far published Denis Johnson, Peter Handke, Christian Kracht, Ben Marcus, Curzio Malaparte and Stig Larsson in Norwegian translations.

Personal life


Knausgård is currently married to his third wife, Michal Knausgård (née Shavit). She is the publishing director of Fern Press in London, and previously worked as editorial director of Harvill Secker, where she edited and published Knausgård's novels.[34] Shavit and Knausgård have one child, and live together in London, along with their children from prior marriages. [35]

Knausgård lived in Österlen, Sweden, with his second wife, the writer Linda Boström Knausgård, and their four children until November 2016 when he and his wife separated.[36] He now lives between London and Sweden.[37]

In a radio interview with his estranged first 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.[38] 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.[39]


Original publication English publication
Year Original title Publisher Genre Translated title Year Translator Publisher
1998 Ute av verden Tiden Norsk Forlag
(ISBN 82-10-04193-2)
novel Out of the World 2023 Martin Aitken Archipelago Books
(ISBN 978-1939810502)
2004 En tid for alt Forlaget Oktober
(ISBN 978-82-495-0091-8)
novel A Time for Everything 2009 James Anderson Archipelago Books
(ISBN 978-0980033083)[40]
2009–2011 Min Kamp Forlaget Oktober autobiographical
My Struggle
  • A Death in the Family. My Struggle 1
  • A Man in Love. My Struggle 2
  • Boyhood Island. My Struggle 3
  • Dancing in the Dark. My Struggle 4
  • Some Rain Must Fall. My Struggle 5
  • The End. My Struggle 6
2012–2018 Don Bartlett and Martin Aitken Penguin Books
2013 Sjelens Amerika Forlaget Oktober
(ISBN 978-82-495-1148-8)
2014 Nakker essays and
Necks 2015 Thomas Wagstrom Max Ström
(ISBN 978-91-7126-315-5)
2015 Årstid encyklopedien:[41]
Om høsten
(ISBN 978-82-495-1560-8) autobiographical
Seasonal Encyclopedia:
2017 Penguin Books
(ISBN 978-0-399-56330-0)
2015 Om vinteren (ISBN 978-82-495-1561-5) Winter 2018 Penguin Books
(ISBN 978-0-399-56333-1)
2016 Om våren (ISBN 978-82-495-1649-0) Spring 2018 Penguin Books
(ISBN 978-0-399-56336-2)
2016 Om sommeren (ISBN 978-82-495-1650-6) Summer 2018 Penguin Books
(ISBN 978-0-399-56339-3)

Articles in English


Awards and nominations







  1. ^ a b Rogers, Thomas (15 October 2019). "Writing From Real Life, in All Its Excruciating Detail". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Knausgård og kona kom sammen på rød løper". www.vg.no. 15 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Karl O. Knausgaard". Archived from the original on 7 October 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  4. ^ a b "On my radar: Karl Ove Knausgaard's cultural highlights". the Guardian. 24 January 2021. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  5. ^ Karl Ove Knausgaard (19 April 2016). My Struggle: Book 4. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 4, 270–. ISBN 978-0-374-53417-2.
  6. ^ Evan Hughes, Karl Ove Knausgaard interview, The New Republic, 8 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b Hermione Hoby, "Karl Ove Knausgaard: Norway's Proust and a life laid painfully bare," The Guardian, 1 March 2014.
  8. ^ Ingrid D. Rowland, "The Primordial Struggle," The New York Review of Books, 14 October 2010.
  9. ^ James Wood, "Total Recall". The New Yorker, 13 August 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Høye salgstall for Karl Ove Knausgård i Sverige / Pressemeldinger / Presse / Hovedsiden – Forlaget Oktober" (in Norwegian). Oktober.no. 29 January 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Får toppkarakterer i Danmark – Litteratur – NRK Nyheter". Nrk.no. 2 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Narrator of 133-hour audiobook proclaims boom in 'evolving art'". The Guardian. 1 January 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  13. ^ "Total Recall". The New Yorker. 6 August 2012.
  14. ^ "Bibel 2011". www.nlm.no. Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
  15. ^ Nina Berglund (4 September 2013): "Knausgaard cancels all appearances", Views and News from Norway. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  16. ^ Kiefer, Anselm (2017). Anselm Kiefer : transition from cool to warm. Gagosian Gallery. New York, NY. ISBN 978-0-8478-6212-2. OCLC 995131691.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  17. ^ Edvard Munch : love and angst. Knausgård, Karl Ove, 1968–, Bartrum, Giulia, British Museum,, Munch-museet (Oslo, Norway), Printer Trento SrL. London. 11 April 2019. ISBN 978-0-500-48046-5. OCLC 1052877485.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  18. ^ Flood, Alison (20 October 2019). "Karl Ove Knausgaard's latest work to remain unseen until 2114". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  19. ^ Rob Doyle (5 January 2021). "In the Land of the Cyclops by Karl Ove Knausgaard review – anaemic essays". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  20. ^ Karl Ove Knausgårds nya roman hyllas i Norge Dagens Nyheter 18 September 2020 (in Swedish)
  21. ^ a b c Strålende mottagelse av Knausgårds Morgenstjernen i Danmark Oktober forlag (in Norwegian)
  22. ^ Hyllas av kritikerna: "Knausgårds nya roman är ett storverk" Norstedts (in Swedish)
  23. ^ "Notable Books". New York Times. 22 November 2021.
  24. ^ Ulvene fra evighetens skog Forlaget Oktober
  25. ^ "The Wolves of Eternity". Penguin Random House.
  26. ^ Det tredje riket Forlaget Oktober
  27. ^ "The Third Realm". Penguin Random House.
  28. ^ ""Nattskolen"". Forlaget Oktober.
  29. ^ Sandve, Gerd Elin (26 October 2023). ""Uventa humor hos Knausgård"". NRK (in Norwegian Nynorsk). Retrieved 30 October 2023.
  30. ^ Magazine, Liesl Schillinger | Photographs by Juergen Teller for WSJ (5 November 2015). "Why Karl Ove Knausgaard Can't Stop Writing". Wall Street Journal – via www.wsj.com.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ "Karl Ove Knausgaard". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  32. ^ The Morning Star Complete reviews.com
  33. ^ "Om oss – Pelikanen forlang". Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  34. ^ "Shavit to succeed Franklin at Cape | The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com.
  35. ^ "Karl Ove Knausgård: – Aldri vært på et så bra sted i livet". www.vg.no. 19 September 2020.
  36. ^ "Hennes kamp är explosiv". Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  37. ^ Adams, Tim (16 September 2018). "Karl Ove Knausgaard: 'I don't know why more people don't read Mein Kampf'". The Guardian – via www.theguardian.com.
  38. ^ Gundersen, Trygve Riiser (3 October 2010). "Knausgård burde være glad". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  39. ^ Eivind Kristensen, "«Onkel Gunnar» tar knallhardt oppgjør med Knausgård" (in Norwegian), Aftenposten, 17 November 2011.
  40. ^ "A Time for Everything". Archipelago Books. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  41. ^ Farsethås, Ane (15 December 2015). "After My Struggle: An Interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard". theparisreview.org. The Paris Review. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  42. ^ Title in the online table of contents is "Anders Breivik's inexplicable crime".
  43. ^ Title in the online edition is "Into the Black Forest With the Greatest Living Artist".
  44. ^ "'Welt'-Literaturpreis 2015 an Karl Ove Knausgård". Die Welt (in German). 18 September 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  45. ^ Izikovich, Gili (28 May 2017). "Karl Ove Knausgaard Named 2017 Laureate for Jerusalem Prize in Literature". Haaretz. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  46. ^ "Svenska Akademiens nordiska pris 2019". Swedish Academy (in Swedish). 20 February 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  47. ^ "Leninpriset 2023". Retrieved 13 September 2023.