What to Expect from Karl Ove Knausgaard’s New Project

In a surprising turn of events, Karl Ove Knausgaard is working on a new novel.  After two years of dredging his personal life in a kind of manic fever, Karl Ove is turning his gaze out at the world, in what seems like a project with considerably lower stakes for the author. In an interview with The Paris Review, the Norwegian literary giant divulged some enticing details regarding his upcoming project, which he has dubbed “a personal encyclopedia of our close surroundings.”  

According to Mr Knausgaard, the idea came to him following the birth of his fourth and youngest child with poet and novelist Linda Bostrom.  In his own words: “I wanted to write something for her, a diary or letter, for her to read when she was older—about how things looked like around our home before she was born, what her family was like, our thoughts and habits.”  The general plan was to write about the world “without hierarchy.”  

Karl Ove gave further insight into the project in an article in The Atlantic, in which he and other famous writers were asked to detail their creative processes.  “Every morning now, I write one page. I get up early and write one page in two hours. I start with a word. It could be ‘apple’ or ‘sun’ or ‘tooth,’ anything—it doesn’t matter. It’s just a starting point—a word, an association—and the restriction that I write about that. It can’t be about anything else. Then I just start, without knowing what it’s going to be about. And it’s like the text produces itself.”  


Image courtesy of The Times

This is very much in keeping with Karl Ove’s unconventional writing style that set the literary world alight in “My Struggle”. In the series, Knausgaard recreates elaborate and multilayered portraits of his most banal and shameful moments.  Those familiar with this mode should have some idea of what to expect based on Knausgaard’s well established penchant for naturalistic writing, and turning the seemingly mundane into the achingly romantic. The true surprise is that the book is happening at all.

Knausgaard described the aim of My Struggle as a sort of “literary suicide” , wherein he would assassinate his identity as writer and free himself of what he viewed as a terrible burden.  He publicly vowed never to write again after completing the gargantuan novel. Not to mention the considerable controversey surrounding the hyperrealism of the books, which Knausgaard preserved by using the actual names of his friends, family, and newfound enemies. Hopefully, this next novel will prove a more relaxing endeavor for Karl Ove, and an exciting creative turn.

Featured image courtesy of The New Yorker.