Nominated by:

Oslo Public Libraries, Norway

Stavanger Bibliotek, Norway

Publisher of nominated edition:

Harvill Secker, UK

A Death in the Family: My Struggle Book 1

Karl Ove Knausgard      

Translated from the original Norwegian by Don Bartlett

2014 Shortlist

Judges’ Comments

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 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.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Norway in 1968 and made his debut with the novel Out of This World (Ute av verden). A Time for Everything was his second novel and was nominated for the Nordic Council Prize. It was his first to be translated into English. The first volume of his Min Kamp (My Struggle) has been named a finalist for Norway’s 2009 Brage Prize.

Librarians’ 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.

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