Synopses & Reviews
“[Book 2] sears the reader because Knausgaard is a passionate idealist [who] wants to fight the conformity and homogeneity of modern bourgeois existence.” —James Wood, The New Yorker
In the second installment of Karl Ove Knausgaards monumental six-volume masterpiece, the character Karl Ove Knausgaard moves to Stockholm, where, having left his wife, he leads a solitary existence. He strikes up a deep friendship with another exiled Norwegian, a Nietzschean intellectual and boxing fanatic named Geir. He also tracks down Linda, whom he met at a writers workshop a few years earlier and who fascinated him deeply.
My Struggle: Book 2 is at heart a love story—the story of Karl Ove falling in love with his second wife. But the novel also tells other stories: of becoming a father, of the turbulence of family life, of outrageously unsuccessful attempts at a family vacation, of the emotional strain of birthday parties for children, and of the daily frustrations, rhythms, and distractions of city life keeping him from (and filling) his novel.
It is a brilliant work that emphatically delivers on the unlikely promise that many hundreds of pages later readers will be left breathlessly demanding more.
“Intense and vital . . . Where many contemporary writers would reflexively turn to irony, Knausgaard is intense and utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties . . . The need for totality . . . brings superb, lingering, celestial passages . . . He wants us to inhabit he ordinariness of life, which is sometimes visionary, sometimes banal, and sometimes momentous, but all of it perforce ordinary because it happens in the course of a life, and happens, in different forms, to everyone . . . The concluding sentences of the book are placid, plain, achieved. They have what Walter Benjamin called ‘the epic side of truth, wisdom.” —James Wood, The New Yorker
“Steadily absorbing, lit up by pages of startling insight and harrowing honesty, My Struggle introduces into world literature a singular character and immerses us in his fascinating Underground Man consciousness.” —Phillip Lopate
“A rope round the neck, a knife in the heart. The book is full of magic. The world simply opens up . . . Knausgaard will have the same status as Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun.” —Kristeligt Dagblad (Denmark)
“Ruthless beauty.” —Aftenposten (Norway)
“This first installment of an epic quest should restore jaded readers to life.” —The Independent
“Between Proust and the woods . . . Like granite, precise and forceful. More real than reality.” —La Repubblica (Italy)
“Breathtakingly good.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[Knausgaards] preternatural facility for description . . . speaks not only to the sheer pleasure his fiction affords, but to the philosophical stakes of that pleasure.” —Mark Sussman, Los Angeles Review of Books
About the Author
Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Oslo in 1968. His first novel, Out of the World, was published in 1998 and won the Norwegian Critics Literary Prize for Fiction—the first time a debut had won this award. His second novel, A Time for Everything, came out six years later, won multiple prestigious prizes, and was named one of the 25 Best Books of the Last 25 Years by Norways major newspaper; it was his first book to be translated into English (“Strange and marvelous,” said The New York Review of Books). With the publication of the first volume of My Struggle in 2009, he became a household name in Norway. He lives in rural Sweden with his wife and their three children.