Knausgaard
2014 Shortlist

A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1

Translated from the original Norwegian by Don Bartlett
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ABOUT
THE BOOK

A searingly honest, addictive and controversial read from the international sensation and bestseller, Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Karl Ove Knausgaard writes with exhilarating 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 the first of the six books in the My Struggle cycle. In it Knausgaard has created a universal story which is gripping, hugely readable and written as if the author’s very life were at stake.

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s minute examination of a life is compendious, surprising and often sublime. The opening reflections on mortality of the narrator, Karl Ove, have an uncompromising originality that signals a forensic frankness to come. The novel – a kind of autofiction – begins with the demise of Karl Ove’s father, a morose teacher who left his wife and took to drink, ending his days in degradation in the seaside home of the narrator’s grandmother. Through the prism of inquiry into this puzzling death, and the contrast of Karl Ove’s own fatherhood, the novel gives a freshly engaging account of a childhood and teenager in Norway, from the elusiveness of beer and love, to the embarrassments of playing in a band. Adolescent self-absorption is offset by self-deprecation and humour, and the novel builds to a moving climax as Karl Ove and his brother cleanse the devastating squalor of their dead father’s home. In Knausgaard’s microscopic approach, no thought or feeling is too fleeting, no detail too trivial, to capture in words. Don Bartlett’s superb translation adjusts the pace and rhythm to create a compelling flow.

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Karl
Ove Knausgaard

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle cycle has been heralded as a masterpiece all over the world. From A Death in the Family to The End, the novels move through childhood into adulthood and, together, form an enthralling portrait of human life. Knausgaard has been awarded the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature, the Brage Prize and the Jerusalem Prize. His work, which also includes Out of the World, A Time for Everything and The Seasons Quartet, is published in thirty-five languages.

 

 

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle cycle has been heralded as a masterpiece all over the world. From A Death in the Family to The End, the novels move through childhood into adulthood and, together, form an enthralling portrait of human life. Knausgaard has been awarded the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature, the Brage Prize and the Jerusalem Prize. His work, which also includes Out of the World, A Time for Everything and The Seasons Quartet, is published in thirty-five languages.

 

 

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Don
Bartlett

Don Bartlett is the translator behind some of the most read and talked about Norwegian books of recent years. From Jo Nesbø’s successful crime books to the titanic introspection of Karl Ove Knausgård and his seminal My Struggle series. Bartlett has worked with some of the biggest names in Norwegian literature and has helped make their books into international best-sellers. We caught up with him at the National Centre for Writing in Norwich’s Dragon Hall to chat with him about his career as a translator, the runaway success of Knausgård’s My Struggle, the recent rise in Norwegian literature and just how difficult it is to translate dialect into English.

Don Bartlett is the translator behind some of the most read and talked about Norwegian books of recent years. From Jo Nesbø’s successful crime books to the titanic introspection of Karl Ove Knausgård and his seminal My Struggle series. Bartlett has worked with some of the biggest names in Norwegian literature and has helped make their books into international best-sellers. We caught up with him at the National Centre for Writing in Norwich’s Dragon Hall to chat with him about his career as a translator, the runaway success of Knausgård’s My Struggle, the recent rise in Norwegian literature and just how difficult it is to translate dialect into English.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

This book describes a man’s struggle as a family man and in life itself. He records his daily life with so much honesty, that it is painful to read. Especially the part where he fantastically describes daily life as a father, and shows the changes in Norwegian society, where equality between man and woman is important, also when it comes to taking care of the children. The 1st book in this series of 6, tells the story of a tormented son who both hates and loves his unpredictable father.

This is a true story promoted as a novel and the language makes the reality an interesting read.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
01/01/2012
Country
Norway
Original Language
Norwegian
Publisher
Harvill Secker
Translator
Don Bartlett
Translation
Translated from the original Norwegian by Don Bartlett

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