A Death in the Family

Karl Ove Knausgaard

A Death in the Family

In this utterly remarkable novel Karl Ove Knausgaard writes with painful 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. 3.0 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
A Death in the Family

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 400
RRP
Date of Publication April 2012
ISBN 978-1846554674
Publisher Harvill Secker
 

In this utterly remarkable novel Karl Ove Knausgaard writes with painful 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.

Reviews

The Independent

Boyd Tonkin

Along the way, Knausgaard (always the Proustian) digresses into the vocation of art and the solace of nature. He can be enraptured by the "inexhaustibility" of a sketch by Constable, enchanted by springtime light with its promise of "all the happiness, all the beauty, all the future that resides in everything", thrilled at the memory of a Christmas fish-market and the "marvellous adventure" of sea-creatures, or intrigued by how cherished brands of childhood lose glamour, "no longer laden with meaning". It would be otiose to note that he can play the long-winded narcissist. Take that as read. Equally, he can touch any topic with gold, "for my world, in all its unbearable banality, was radiant".

09/03/2012

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The London Review of Books

Christopher Taylor

As in the earlier book, he devotes many pages to his feeling that scientism, humanism and religion have conspired to enmesh the world in abstract thought, robbing it of an inexpressible ‘beyond’. His wish for ‘the world … to step forward and show itself’ seems admirably earnest and unhampered by postmodern hesitations, though he sometimes wanders over the line between defamiliarising the obvious and stating it (‘The moment life departs the body, it belongs to death’). The relentless piling of detail on detail in the passages dealing with his father’s death says more about the force of the non-abstract than he manages in the essayistic passages.

05/04/2012

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The Daily Mail

Hephzibah Anderson

Don Bartlett brings rhythmic clarity to the task, conveying the wit as well as the honesty of Karl Ove’s descriptions of adolescent sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll - which is to say, snogging, beer and indie punk. There’s shame on these pages, too, as well as secrets and heartbreak.

29/03/2012

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The Times

Louis Wise

It’s a test of patience, but it can be worth it … But it is often hard to take much pleasure from what is on the page. This isn’t asmuch to do with the approach as with the style. The tone is largely flat and unvaried — perhaps because of the translation, perhaps because of the author’s laconic approach.But it is also difficult to warm to the narrator.

04/03/2012

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The Guardian

Michel Faber

A Death in the Family begins with a grand meditation on post-mortem microbes worthy of Jim Crace's Being Dead, and ends impressively too, with a profoundly resonant last line. In between, in a Proustian spirit of digression, there are philosophical pensées of varying interest, as well as vivid evocations of adolescent hypersensitivity and confusion. The bulk of the text, however, consists of mundane family life described in microscopic detail. All the dull stuff that most novelists would omit, Knausgaard leaves in.

25/04/2012

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