The Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård has written a novel.

This is notable in his case, since Knausgård has not written any fictional works for many years and his major work is the six-volume autobiographical project Mein Kampf.

This made him one of Norway's best-known contemporary authors.

The Literaturhaus Frankfurt organized Knausgård's reading in the play, and the rows of seats, which were almost fully occupied after the corona restrictions were lifted, show the author's popularity in this country too.

Knausgård's books can by no means be called entertaining, and in a conversation with Andreas Platthaus, head of the literary department of the FAZ, he appeared to be as serious and thoughtful as one would expect from his literary works.

When asked what his novel is about, the author replies: “The big questions in life from the point of view of little people.” In other words, about nothing less than God and the devil, good and evil and death and the question of the meaning of life.

Although the novel is not autobiographical, nine characters consistently speak in the first person on 900 pages, and in the excerpts presented by Christoph Pütthoff one thought one could hear Knausgård's voice and his very own tone again and again.

Horror, fantasy and psychological thrillers

The novel “Der Morgenstern”, which, as Knausgård revealed, is the start of a multi-volume cycle of works, is set in contemporary Norway.

It is told of a world in which gradually stranger, sometimes supernatural phenomena are being observed.

The "aspect of the fantastic" appealed to him when writing, and although he doesn't think in terms of genres at all, the novel can definitely be read as a "gothic novel", a gothic novel in which horror, fantasy and psychological thrillers are combined.

This intertwining could be seen impressively in the passage read aloud about a brain dead person who suddenly begins to live again while the doctors are removing his organs.

But Knausgård never deals with the narrative elements in a playful or postmodernist ironic manner.

The threats he describes, the protagonists' fears in the face of a brightening star in the sky and many other inexplicable events stand for the in-depth philosophical questions.

The proximity to German literature, to Romanticism, to Nietzsche or Hölderlin, which Knausgård called “divine”, has nothing to do with Germany.

His love comes much more from the fact that he has always felt related to these authors.

This also applies to Russia, which plays an important role in his latest book, which has just been completed.

For this he spent a year researching and immersing himself in the great Russian literature.

"I love Russian culture," he admits, but he prefers not to talk about it anymore.

And his ever softer voice shows how much Karl Ove Knausgård is suffering from the current situation.

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