Customer Review

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing, tragic and very controversial, 18 April 2012
This review is from: A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1 (My Struggle 1) (Hardcover)
`A Death in the Family' (My Struggle: Vol 1) takes the autobiographical novel to the extreme. Knausgaard has written the truth, this is his reality. The frankness of his 6 Volume work has alienated him from half his family and he admits that the scandal accompanying its publication has contributed to its bestselling status in Norway where it has become a national obsession.

The central figure is his father, an ordinary school teacher who became an alcoholic and drank himself to death. There is no plot or formal structure and Knausgaard moves around freely in time as a particular event reminds him of something that happened in the past. It is about his struggle to write great literature while having to contend with the banality of everyday life including looking after his children, he loves them but is brutally honest about the fact he also resents the time they take up in his life. At times it can be almost uncomfortable learning about one man's life in such detail, but it is fascinating. Although it is a personal narrative about the struggles of a writers life it also explores the struggles universal to us all.

There are no chapters and frequently a single paragraph can take up several pages which may sound daunting but the compelling narrative kept me going. Memories and events in his life are described in minute detail, for example, the time that he and his brother clean their grandmother's house after their father died there; having wrecked the place. In spite of the detail of the mundane `A Death in the Family' is not boring, although Part 1 is the hardest to get through but it really takes off in Part 2 leaving me wanting to read the second volume.

It has frequently been compared to Marcel Proust, has been hailed as a literary masterpiece all over Europe and it will be interesting to see how it is received in the UK. `A Death in the Family' is amusing, tragic and very controversial; a very literary book but compelling and highly readable; thanks in no small part to Don Bartlett's translation, Scandi crime fans will recognise the name as he translates Jo Nesbo. The question is has Knausgaard sold his soul for fame?
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 May 2012 10:04:48 BDT
Thanks for this I Readalot - you've sent me straight to download sample chapter - sounds intriguing!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2012 10:17:08 BDT
I Readalot says:
It is certainly that. In Norway companies ended up declaring 'Knausgaard free days' because the staff were spending too much time standing around the coffee machine discussing it.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jul 2013 01:31:12 BDT
S Riaz says:
Great review - I am intrigued, having never heard of it before.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2013 21:59:40 BDT
I Readalot says:
Thanks, having read Vol 2 I am intrigued to see what Part 3 has in store. I know a lot of people will disagree with me but I have a feeling that he will get the Nobel one day.
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I Readalot
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Location: UK

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