Karl Ove Knausgaard: ‘A troubled childhood can be good. It made me a writer’

Karl Ove Knausgaard, photographed by Sam Baker “I’ve never been in therapy, and I used to say I’d rather shoot myself than be in therapy, but I know I should be,” admits Karl Ove Knausgaard, the Norwegian literary phenomenon who resembles a taller, more debonair Mark Hamill. The 48-year-old’s six-volume autobiographical novel My Struggle (published from 2009-11), which has been read by one in 10 Norwegians, autopsies the minutia of his life with fearless candour. Knausgaard, heralded by Time magazine as “Norway’s Proust”, chronicles death, particularly his feckless, alcoholic father’s in 1998, and his own (and others) fragility in unflinching detail. In fact, the author has been described as a “death-obsessed misanthrope” and he delights and appals readers (“It’s unbelievable… It’s completely blown my mind,” maintained Zadie Smith) – and his own family – in equal measure. “My mother’s family are readers but my father’s aren’t, and they thought they were being attacked” “There’s been the whole range of reactions from my family, from extremely aggressive and hateful to very appreciative,” maintains Knausgaard, who now resides in Sweden. “It was a divide between my mother’s family and my father’s. My mother’s family are readers but my father’s aren’t, and […]

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