Karl Ove Knausgaard Meditates on Being Present in New Book ‘Autumn’

Karl Ove Knausgaard is possibly the most ubiquitous celebrity in Norway. He was a struggling novelist until, before the age of 40, he decided to write a six-volume autobiography.

The book is called “My Struggle,” and it goes into minute detail on topics both big and small like death and changing a diaper. It became an unlikely best-selling phenomenon in his home country of Norway and has since been translated into 20 languages.

It’s success in Norway, where people describe being obsessed with it and addicted to it, was a “complete shock,” said Knausgaard.

“I thought, ‘This is the most uninteresting book and the most boring book ever written,’” he said. “To me it was an experiment in realistic prose. How far can you go into detail, you know, in a completely ordinary, boring life?”

But then he noticed that people started opening up to him about their own lives. “In my other books, people come over and say, ‘Oh that is a good book—I loved it.’ This time, they said one sentence about the book and then they start to talk about their own life. That’s what the book triggered, I think.”

Knausgaard  is on a book tour in Chicago to promote his latest work, “Autumn.”

He joins Paris Schutz in conversation.


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