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 Karl Ove Knausgård

Karl Ove Knausgård is a Norwegian author, known for six autobiographical novels, titled My Struggle (Min Kamp). Knausgård was born in Oslo and raised at Tromøya and in Kristiansand, and studied arts and literature at the 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 debutant 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 IMPAC 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 with the Min Kamp books that Knausgård became a household name in Norway, due to the books' large success, as well as the controversy they raised. In 2009, Knausgård published My Struggle - First Book, the first volume of a total of six autobiographical novels, which were published in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The six books total over 3500 pages.

The Min Kamp books caused massive controversy when they were released, partly because the Norwegian title of the book, Min Kamp, is the same as 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 ex-wife. The books have nevertheless received almost universally favourable reviews, especially the first two volumes, and were, even before the final book´s publication, one of the greatest publishing phenomena in Norway ever. In a country of fewer than 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 central part in several of the Min Kamp books, Knausgård admits that he sometimes feels that he has made a "Faustian bargain" - that he has achieved enormous success by sacrificing his relationships with friends and members of his family. In October 2010, Aursland presented her perspective of involuntarily becoming a subject of her ex-husband´s autobiography in a radio documentary broadcast on NRK. Knausgård´s uncle, who is called "Gunnar" in the My Struggle 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. The first three have (as of 2014) been translated into English by Don Bartlett for publication by Archipelago Books (US) and Harvill Secker (UK), and have been retitled A Death in the Family, A Man in Love, and Boyhood Island. Book Four is scheduled to be released in the U.S. on 2 June 2015.

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 Knausgaard´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 Knausgaard, and wrote about the philosophy behind the Min Kamp books. Frenchculture.org website noted that, even though Knausgaard was called the "Norwegian Proust", the first volume sold very few copies in France, probably because the strong tradition of autofiction makes the book look less original than it appears in the US.



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