One of Europe’s most remarkable literary talents explains the autobiography that made his name

From The Economist:

ScreenHunter_555 Mar. 15 20.33The man standing on the platform at Ystad station, in southern Sweden, looks more like a grunge rocker than a literary superstar: long hair, beard, scuffed boots, glowing cigarette, hat pulled down against the bitter cold. His white van is so grimy that it is almost black. The stereo blasts out at full volume. There is a fearsome-looking dog cage in the back.

Karl Ove Knausgaard tries to reassure his guest. He turns the music off. He chats about the latest Bill Bryson. The dog turns out to be a soppy spaniel that he bought for his children. But the grunge keeps reasserting itself. Mr Knausgaard smokes like a fiend in his garden study (though not in his impeccably tidy house) and keeps an electric guitar and a drum kit next to his desk. What also reasserts itself repeatedly is the sense that this is a man in the grip of a huge literary talent.

Mr Knausgaard is the author of one of the most idiosyncratic literary works of recent years: a six-volume, 3,500-page autobiography called “My Struggle”, after Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. It starts with a portrait of his father’s alcohol-soaked death, ends with a meditation on Hitler and takes the author through the cycle of his life. Mr Knausgaard is now 45.

“My Struggle” turned him into a superstar in his native Norway. One in ten Norwegians have read some of the book, and companies have introduced “Knausgaard-free days” in order to keep people’s minds on work. It has also turned him into something of a pariah, not just because he called the book “My Struggle”, but also because he lays bare the lives of everyone around him. His father’s side of the family refuse to speak to him. Ordinary Norwegians regard him with horror as well as fascination. He is now an exile from both fame and scandal, living in tiny Osterlen, where nobody gives a damn about literary celebrities.

More here.