Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard

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Mr Knausgaard knowingly breaks the frames of taste and tact. His art of transgression satisfies the “longing for authenticity”; the urge “to go beyond the boundaries”.
-The Economist

Synopsis

From the author of the monumental My Struggle series, Karl Ove Knausgaard, one of the masters of contemporary literature and a genius of observation and introspection, comes the first in a new autobiographical quartet based on the four seasons

28 August. Now, as I write this, you know nothing about anything, about what awaits you, the kind of world you will be born into. And I know nothing about you...

I want to show you our world as it is now: the door, the floor, the water tap and the sink, the garden chair close to the wall beneath the kitchen window, the sun, the water, the trees. You will come to see it in your own way, you will experience things for yourself and live a life of your own, so of course it is primarily for my own sake that I am doing this: showing you the world, little one, makes my life worth living.

Autumn begins with a letter Karl Ove Knausgaard writes to his unborn daughter, showing her what to expect of the world. He writes one short piece per day, describing the material and natural world with the precision and mesmerising intensity that have become his trademark. He describes with acute sensitivity daily life with his wife and children in rural Sweden, drawing upon memories of his own childhood to give an inimitably tender perspective on the precious and unique bond between parent and child. The sun, wasps, jellyfish, eyes, lice--the stuff of everyday life is the fodder for his art. Nothing is too small or too vast to escape his attention. This beautifully illustrated book is a personal encyclopaedia on everything from chewing gum to the stars. Through close observation of the objects and phenomena around him, Knausgaard shows us how vast, unknowable and wondrous the world is.
 

About Karl Ove Knausgaard

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Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Oslo in 1968. His first novel, Out of the World, was published in 1998 and won the Norwegian Critics Literary Prize for Fiction—the first time a debut had won that award. His second novel, A Time for Everything, came out six years later, won multiple prestigious prizes, and was named one of the 25 Best Books of the Last 25 Years by Norway’s major newspaper; it was his first book to be translated into English (“Strange and marvelous,” said The New York Review of Books). With the publication of the first volume of My Struggle in 2009, he became a household name in Norway. He now lives in Österlen in rural Sweden with his wife and their three children.
 
Published August 22, 2017 by Penguin Press. 238 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Nature & Wildlife, Literature & Fiction, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Autumn
All: 6 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 3

NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Aug 23 2017

The professed goal of Knausgaard's book is to answer a question that neither babies nor jellyfish are capable of asking: "What makes life worth living?" His partial reply: "Showing you the world, little one, makes my life worth living." Sweet, but not enough to incline me toward the next three seasons of this quartet.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Rodney Welch on Aug 28 2017

In these secular meditations, Knausgaard scratches away at the ordinary to reach the sublime — finding what's in the picture, and what's hidden.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Parul Sehgal on Aug 22 2017

...in “Autumn,” Knausgaard keeps us on the shore. The shells he gives us to admire are intricate, absorbing and beautiful; this book is full of wonders. But it isn’t, just yet, the whole story.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Stuart Evers on Aug 21 2017

And while it is neither a reinvention nor quite a revelation, this first volume of the Seasons Quartet quietly illuminates Knausgaard’s profound gift for making the reader see the world in fresh and unpredictable ways.

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Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Bert Archer on Aug 25 2017

It is fascinating in the context of Knausgaard’s life and work (or to use a term his translator coins, “lifeworld”). But for fans, and almost certainly his unborn daughter, there are certainly enough peaks behind the veil at the profundity of the ordinary to break up a book that is always on the cusp of monotony.

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The Economist

Good
on Aug 31 2017

Mr Knausgaard knowingly breaks the frames of taste and tact. His art of transgression satisfies the “longing for authenticity”; the urge “to go beyond the boundaries”.

Read Full Review of Autumn | See more reviews from The Economist

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