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Vader by Karl Ove Knausgård

Vader (original 2009; edition 2012)

by Karl Ove Knausgård, Marianne Molenaar

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8424310,699 (4.02)78
Authors:Karl Ove Knausgård
Other authors:Marianne Molenaar
Info:Breda De Geus 2012

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My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgård (2009)


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» See also 78 mentions

English (25)  Dutch (9)  Swedish (3)  Danish (3)  Norwegian (1)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (44)
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Gemengde leeservaring! Ik was onder de indruk van de manier waarop Knausgård de moeizame relatie met zijn vader als een duister vermoeden oproept tussen de vele details die eigen zijn aan zijn schrijfstijl. Tegelijkertijd worstelt de auteur ook met zijn schrijverschap, en zijn filosofische beschouwingen over 'echte' literatuur konden mij veel minder bekoren. Ik betrapte me erop dat ik pas echt geboeid bleef lezen als het ging om de vader-zoonrelatie, het concrete hoofdthema en voor mij toch de essentie van dit boek.
( )
  chrisgalle | Mar 5, 2015 |
I read the New Yorker review of My Struggle and decided without any further thought that I despised the book. Knausgaard sets out to be obnoxious; he picked a marriage to pieces for the sake of a novel series named after Hitler (My Struggle, for those not in the know, is Min Kamp in Norwegian) and the incessant comparisons to Proust brought mainly scepticism. I resolved with idealistic determination that I would not read it, and furthermore I was wholly certain that should I read it, I would continue to despise it.

Fortunately, it's not that simple. The comparisons to Proust are actually rather just, as arrogant and absurd as that sounds. My Struggle genuinely is a rather bold reinvention of the structure of the novel, if it is a novel to begin with. It's a fictionalised autobiography to the degree that all memories are fictionalised; much as In Search of Lost Time is centred around the theme of involuntary memory, My Struggle skirts around the inherent unreliability of memory itself via a somewhat unreliable, albeit self-aware, narrator. It led me to reassess the way in which we as a society construct the artifice of fiction, and that's beyond invaluable.

However, the book is far from impeccable. Frankly, I found much of the prose wooden, although that could presumably be a byproduct of translation. The book's salvation is its daring; another book in its style with a similar quality of dialogue and narration would likely be tedious. It remains extraordinary, and the writing manages to propel you through the book with ease, but if you hop off Knausgaard's narrative conveyor belt to look at the individual sentences and quotes, they're significantly weaker than the book as a whole.

That said, it's at least not overly dense; I found it a page-turner in a very counter-intuitive way. My Struggle's not perfect, but it's very much worth a read with the slightest of reservations.

Full disclosure: I've only read this book once before loaning it out and I in all likelihood will read it again and reassess somewhat. I've also only read the first in the series, although I just bought the second, so all references to My Struggle refer exclusively to the first book. ( )
  wpotash | Feb 22, 2015 |
A Death in the Family is the first book in the controversial six volume series by Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård. The controversy started with the title of the book Min Kamp, which is the same title as Hitler’s Mein Kampf as both translate to My Struggle. Secondly, while these are marketed as autobiographical novels, Knausgård has come under fire from friends and families for exposing their private lives. Karl Ove Knausgård has been often been called a Proustian and Min Kamp often compared to In Search of Lost Time. That is just enough pretention to make me want to pick up these novels and read them.

A Death in the Family (or My Struggle Book 1 in America) tells the story of Karl Ove Knausgård, a family man living in Sweden, trying to find the balance between his writing and his family. He reflects on his childhood and teenage years, as well as the loss of his father in what feels like a brutally honest portrayal of his life. What is interesting is the idea of this being an autobiographical novel rather than a memoir; as a reader I had to continuously remind myself of this fact. I had to question what is real and were liberties were taken. Honestly, I don’t think I could write about my childhood with such clarity and I suspect that the fiction was used to fill in the gaps and tell a better story.

Karl Ove Knausgård is approaching middle age, and with a young family I suspect that this six volume series is just a way for him to make sense of his life. Allowing him to work through issues and mistakes and explore different ideas he might have towards life. This is both an effective and fascinating insight of the life of a writer and I suspect it would have been very therapeutic for Knausgård, even if it caused friends or family members to hate him. As a novel, it is a roller coaster of emotions; sometimes it might come across as slow or even dull but that is life.

This first volume is even divided into two parts, one exploring the childhood/teenage years of Karl Ove and the other the death of his father. To understand the death of his father, obviously his childhood played a big part; his mother was almost invisible, always at work or somewhere and his father was distant and unpredictable. We often have a rose-coloured memory of our childhood but as Knausgård reflects on his past, you can recognise a similar distorted view in your own life. Karl Ove has a dark view on the world and death; it is interesting read this book in the context as he tries to understand his father and his death at such a young age.

While I can’t compare Karl Ove Knausgård to Marcel Proust (I really need to read him) or Min Kamp with In Search of Lost Time, I’m glad to have read this novel. I have reserved A Man in Love (Book 2) and I plan to read all six books. I like Knausgård’s view on the world and find it fascinating to read his books as he works through his own issues. His writing style obviously helps, I found great beauty in the dark and macabre views and credit has to go to Don Bartlett for the translation.

My only problem is going to be the fact that only the first three books of My Struggle have been translated and published. I suspect I will be caught up on this series very soon and I will have begin the year long waits between volumes. Book Four is expected in April 2015 and I am never going to learn Norwegian to avoid the wait. I have always shyed away from a series that is incomplete because of the wait but this sounded right up my alley and thought I had to try at least the first book; that was a mistake.

This was a pleasant balance between literary fiction and self-reflection. Karl Ove Knausgård even threw in some of his philosophical views; I remember some references to Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in the text. This was so much more than an autobiographical novel of bewilderment, grief, relationship, love, loss and rock music; hard to explain but I recommend you experience it. Even if you just wish to increase your book snobbery levels, Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle series is going to be something to watch. I suspect this will become a literary sensation, if it has not become one yet.

This review originally appeared on my blog: http://literary-exploration.com/2014/10/09/a-death-in-the-family-by-karl-ove-kna... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Nov 26, 2014 |
This volume lived up to its critical reputation, sparse unsparing language about ordinarily problematic relationships interspersed with lyrical passages about weather, light and landscape, contextualised in the becoming-years of popular culture which coincide with the author's own adolescence and manhood. ( )
  Mijk | Nov 26, 2014 |
"The days from which these incidents are drawn were countless, the bonds they created between us indestructible",, August 23, 2014

This review is from: My Struggle: Book 1 (Kindle Edition)
This review is from: A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1 (Knausgaard) (Kindle Edition)
An amazing read, but one that's hard to review. It's somewhere between a memoir and a work of literature: opening with the author recollecting his early childhood, with a father he fears (although we never really discover what causes such strong feelings); moving to the present day, where he describes marriage and children - love but boredom at much that this life entails . He describes his teenage years brilliantly: the huge effort of smuggling booze to a new year's party without his parents finding out; obsessive first love. And then midway through the book his father, who he hadn't seen for 18 months, dies an alcoholic, and as he spends time clearing up the house, he begins to realise how much he meant to him.
Much of everyday life is described in excessive detail, yet somehow it doesn't bore - rather it makes you feel like you're there, watching all that happens. And in between, there are interesting, moving, highly relevant thoughts on life, art, nature, relationships.
Looking forward to reading the sequels! ( )
2 vote starbox | Aug 23, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Karl Ove Knausgårdprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bartlett, DonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For hjertet er livet enkelt: det slår så lenge det kan. Så stopper det.
Å skrive er å trekke det som finnes ut av skyggene av det vi vet. Det er det skriving handler om. Ikke hva som skjer der, ikke hva slags handlinger som utspiller seg der, men der i seg selv. Der, det er skrivingens sted og mål.
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This is the first of six books comprising the author's "My Struggle" ("Min Kamp" in Norwegian) cycle.

In the US the title was literally translated as "My Struggle Book One", whereas in the UK and Canada it has been issued under the title "A Death in the Family".
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The provocative, audacious, brilliant six-volume autobiographical novel that has unquestionably been the main event of contemporary European literature. It has earned favorable comparisons to its obvious literary forebears "A la recherche du temps perdu" and "Mein Kampf" but has been celebrated as the rare magnum opus that is intensely, addictively readable.… (more)

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Archipelago Books

2 editions of this book were published by Archipelago Books.

Editions: 1935744186, 1935744526

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