The Knausgaard Cometh

Book 4 is now a thing that exists in this world as a consumer commodity. I have done my part to welcome the behemoth by interviewing its translator, Don Bartlett, and reviewing Book 4 itself.

Just for fun I checked the sales figures on the entire series, and by far that great majority of Knausgaards sold this year are Book 1. I can’t draw any other conclusion than that many, many people are hearing about Knausgaard for the first time this year and/or have finally been persuaded to give the series a try. Which seems to bode well for My Struggle remaining a thing of interest to the mass media and reading public through Book 6.

For even more fun, I ran the numbers on Elena Ferrante and discovered more or less the same thing: this is by far her best sales year to date, so I’m guessing there’s a similar thing happening there. (And keep in mind, the series concludes with the fourth volume, releasing in September.)

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Perhaps series are viable right now in a way they haven’t been for a while. Perhaps people like the idea of having a book that they can look forward to reading year-over-year for a while, and maybe the series aspect gives rise to a community of readers in a way that you don’t necessarily get with stand-alone books by the same author. Whatever it is, Knausgaard and Ferrante are commodities that have been on the market for a few years now, and so far people are more and more eager to read them.

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Talking of serial novels, how about the 27 volumes of Danielewski’s The Familiar, published with a 3-month interval between each installment? The My Struggle project looks like a mini-series by comparison. But I doubt the DMZ books will ever get ballyhooed that much.

I never even heard of The Familiar.

And I’ve heard more about Knausgaard than his flat prose merits.

Scott, hi.

Could it be that binge-reading awaits?

By the way, my review went up on the weekend here:

When Book Six comes out I hope to re-read the entire sequence. It’s just that impressive (so far).

Just curious, but where do you get the sales data? I imagine it’s expensive for people outside the industry but still curious who compiles/publishes it.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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