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A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1 (My Struggle 1) [Hardcover]

Karl Ove Knausgaard , Don Bartlett
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2012 My Struggle 1

In this utterly remarkable novel Karl Ove Knausgaard writes with painful honesty about his childhood and teenage years, his infatuation with rock music, his relationship with his loving yet almost invisible mother and his distant and unpredictable father, and his bewilderment and grief on his father's death. When Karl Ove becomes a father himself, he must balance the demands of caring for a young family with his determination to write great literature.

A Death in the Family is a Proustian exploration of his past, in which Knausgaard creates a universal story of the struggles, great and small, that we all face in our lives. A Death in the Family is a profoundly serious, gripping and hugely readable work written as if the author's very life were at stake.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846554675
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846554674
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Long, intense, and vital. ceaselessly compelling. superb, lingering, celestial passages" (James Wood New Yorker)

"This first instalment of an epic quest should restore jaded readers to life" (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

"Bowled me over. The slow pace of disclosure makes this account of a Norwegian adolescence pulse with intensity" (Selina Guinness Irish Independent)

"This is the first part of Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard's six book mega-novel, based on his own life - and if there's any justice the craze for Nordic noir should mean British readers greet it with open arms... as tense as any thriller yet without a jot of sensationalism" (Metro)

"[A] revelation. Using the everyday material of family tension and dysfunction, Knausgaard out-Franzens Franzen in a virtuoso chronicle of youth - ruthless, hilarious, unbearably well-observed" (Independent)

Book Description

An international phenomenon, which has been declared a masterpiece everywhere it has been published. A searingly honest, addictive and controversial read.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Days of His Life 27 April 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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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing but not likeable 3 Jun 2013
By Lenni E
Format:Kindle Edition
I can not decide whether or not I like this book. I found it self-indulgent, and I at times felt that the author was incredibly arrogant. The book appears to have been written as self-therapy, to cleanse the author of his feelings about his father. We never really find out why the author hated his father so much, nor do we discover much about what seems to have been a very good relationship with his mother. The style of the book is sometimes very difficult to read: there are whole pages without a single paragraph break, and there is little flow of narrative. You could start reading this book at any point and not lose the flow.
This book definitely is not as good as the praise at the front of the book suggests. But at the same time, I did want to read it. Although not likeable, the author's character is intriguing; his observations of human nature are fascinating, his descriptions of the things he sees brings them alive. And yet he appears to have no ability to interpret his own behaviour. It has bee suggested that the author may be somewhere on the autism spectrum; he is highly intelligent, but seems unable to truly relate to others.
I can't say I enjoyed the book. I can't say I would recommend it to others to read. But I am glad I took the time to read it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "masterpiece" is not an exaggeration 5 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover
I would rarely use the word "masterpiece" to descrive a contemporary novel, let alone an autobiography, but this book deserves this title.

You have to admit he has guts: writing a six - part autobiography and calling it "My struggle" (in German translated as "Mein Kampf") is a daring enterprise. But Knausgard succeeds with brio: he is a brilliant story teller and explores the human condition with such honesty and candour that it just leaves you gasping for breath (and wanting to read more and more).

The scenes at the end of the book (his father, his grandmother, the house, the bottles, ....) still haunt my mind.

Apparently Knausgard has achieved a kind of rock star status in Scandinavia: as far as I am concerned he deserves it.

The second book of the series "A man in love" has already appeared in the Dutch translation and is a little bit disappointing after the sheer brilliance of the first, but that is only to be expected. This book is to be released in April in English. By that time I will have read part three of "My Struggle" and it is already marked on my calendar that I have to get the moment it comes out.

Seriously, this is a reading experience not to be missed!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dull life was never more compelling 26 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What makes this book so riveting - and it is - is fascinating in itself. The descriptions can seem sometimes mundane to the point of absurdity (how long can anyone talk about cleaning?). They are also sometimes poetic, mind you. But the author's life is at once so unremarkable yet underlain with tension like piano wire, and it is an extraordinary achievement. Captivating - but why?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book ever 26 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is the best book ever, like Proust or Dickens set in my lifetime. Writing a book about memories triggered by cakes is genius, but one where the reminiscences include Echo and the Bunnymen has relevance and resonance as well. There is a line in here, clumsily translated perhaps, about the disappointment of finding rubbish music in motorway service stations that sums up life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a powerful book 28 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
His reflections on death are provoking and unsettling and expressed with brute force. The book is hard to put down.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Hard to get into!
Published 1 day ago by kt17mike
5.0 out of 5 stars He thought it brilliant and has since purchased others by the same
Bought this for my husband and rated by him! He thought it brilliant and has since purchased others by the same author
Published 5 days ago by E M Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book. He is so honest it is painful ...
A wonderful book. He is so honest it is painful to read but the humour means it is never overwhelming.
Published 8 days ago by Gillian Quille
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of such painful adolescence and family stress
The intensely packed writing style compelled one to enter the book entirely and follow the boy through from childhood to adult. Read more
Published 24 days ago by S. P. Newcombe
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant stuff
Extraordinary. A true original. Loved the mixture of intense narrative and philosophical reflection. I really recommend this book. Buy or borrow.
Published 1 month ago by Caroline Gilfillan
4.0 out of 5 stars It was a struggle
I wanted to read this book after reading about the author and seeing a photo of him in a Sunday newspaper. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Soozydal
2.0 out of 5 stars A slow, dull, thumping headache
I don't often fail to finish a book but this one stopped me about half way through. Life's too short.
Published 1 month ago by Deep Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars the last of the great modernist novels?
Once you finish the 400 odd pages of vol 1 (this novel), you have two more already to go, of those published in English, and then the three remaining to be translated--and since... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Barnard E. Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
loved it, briliant drug-like immersion into daily life. proust for our times perhaps. and there are another 5 parts to come, cant wait to read them
Published 2 months ago by Lian DeWalt
5.0 out of 5 stars mysteriously hypnotic
There was
nothing that repulsed or shocked me in this volume- I had come to expect it to be shocking from the reviews and the reaction of his father's family . Read more
Published 2 months ago by john
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