Yowza, this was a doozy in many more ways than one and the vast majority of those ways are positive. Knausgaard's final memoir/autobiography/novel could be divided into three parts: about 400 pages regarding the first few months before book one of My Struggle was released, in which his uncle is furious with Knausgaard's description of his father and threatens a lawsuit; another 400 pages or so of an essay about Adolf Hitler, comparing three books written about him including Mein Kampf; and the third part is yet another 400 pages or so regarding his family's reaction to the first five books. The first and third parts were more of the beautiful writing we got in the first five books. Knausgaard has such a wonderful way of helping the reader empathize with his world. After reading the final page I not only felt accomplished, but equally sad that it was over and excited to know I will reread it all again. Recommended By Jeffrey J., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The full breadth and achievement of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s monumental work is evident in this final installment of My Struggle. Grappling directly with the consequences of his transgressive blurring of public and private, Book Six is an engrossing look into the mind of one of the most groundbreaking artists of our time. The final volume, building from its predecessors, vacillates between Knausgaard’s ambitions and vulnerability to create a complex portrayal of his relationships with his wife, children, and those closest to him. It is a novel that depicts life in all its realms, from the wounds inflicted from the fallout of the publication of the earlier volumes, to the emotional balm that his close friends provide, to the vivid texture of the backdrop of his days as he faces a marital crisis. Book Six is also an exploration of literature itself and of the profound – and at times startling – connection between writer and reader. Knausgaard also includes a lengthy contemplation of Hitler and his Mein Kampf, which not only directly confronts the implications of his own work’s title but feels particularly relevant (if not prescient) in our current global climate of increasing public support for authoritarianism in countries around the world. In Book Six the scope and ambition of My Struggle is fully realized.
"At last, the highly anticipated conclusion to Knausgaard's six-part masterwork arrives in English... perhaps most notable about Book Six is a 400-page examination of Hitler, Nazism, and the nature of evil, which draws parallels between Mein Kampf and My Struggle... This uncomfortable comparison simultaneously explodes the purview of what fiction can do while zeroing in on the unique concerns of his narrator. Perhaps the most compelling of this epic's installments, and an undeniably impressive literary accomplishment." Diego Báez, Booklist (Starred Review)
"The book’s confrontation with taboo subjects exerts an extraordinary pull on the reader, who is unable to look away and must see how far he will go. Nevertheless, what is perhaps most radical about reading the novel is the feeling of intimacy it creates... What helps give the unwieldy 1,164-page tome some pacing and lightness is the narrator’s charisma and self-deprecating sense of humor. Knausgaard's virtuoso exposition of awkward everyday social interactions is unmatched in contemporary literature." Ben Streeter, World Literature Today
"A purely literary gesture... [Part of] the tradition that justifies Lukács’s definition of the novel as “the epic of a world abandoned by God”... Knausgaard explicitly links this personal struggle with meaninglessness to the larger historical process of secularization.... the result is a book in which contradictions abound, a book with moments of great insight and moments of great banality, a book where one thing often seems to follow another for no reason at all, a book that aggressively courts insignificance." Christopher Beha, Harper's Magazine
"Knausgaard succeeds in producing prose that is “alive”... Such transgressive blurring of the borders between the public and private, sayable and unsayable, can be both life-affirming and riveting." The Economist
"As Jeffrey Eugenides so marvelingly put it, [Knausgaard] broke the sound barrier of the autobiographical novel... There’s something primitive and hungry in that experience — and for me, sometimes, something spiritual, close to the experience of grace." Charles Finch, Slate
"Questions about precisely what fiction is and how it relates to reality, and the extent to which traditional narrative can be a delivery vehicle for saying something true about life… lie at the intellectual and aesthetic heart of Knausgaard’s huge undertaking." Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Times
About the Author
Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Norway in 1968. His debut novel Out of This World won the Norwegian Critics Prize in 2004 and his second novel A Time for Everything was a finalist for the Nordic Council Prize. For My Struggle: Book One, Knausgaard received the Brage Award in 2009, the 2010 Book of the Year Prize in Morgenbladet, and the P2 Listeners’ Prize. My Struggle: Book One was a New Yorker Book of the Year and Book Two was listed among the Wall Street Journal's 2013 Books of the Year. My Struggle is a New York Times Best Seller and has been translated into more than fifteen languages.