cover image Spring


Karl Ove Knausgaard, trans. from the Norwegian by Ingvild Burkey. Penguin Press, $27 (192p) ISBN 978-0-399-56336-2

Knausgaard’s latest is a radical, thrilling departure from the first two volumes of his Seasons Quartet. While Autumn and Winter took the form of short essays, this moving novel stylistically resembles his acclaimed My Struggle series. The lead, an avatar for Knausgaard himself, is alone with his four children in Sweden. Readers do not know why their mother is missing, or how long she has been gone. The lyric prose is addressed in the second person to the protagonist’s infant daughter, to read when she grows up. “I am forty-six years old and that is my insight,” he reflects, “that life is made up of events that have to be parried.” There are frequent insinuations of disaster: a filthy house; fears about the baby’s health; a visit to child protective services; blood floating in the toilet. While suspense mounts, the text delves into brief philosophic examinations of Swedish cinema, Russian literature, and the protagonist’s desire to return to a 19th-century lifestyle. As he takes his baby to visit her mother, the action flashes back to the fateful day that changed everything. This is a remarkably honest take on the strange linkages between love, loss, laughter, and self-destruction, a perfect distillation of Knausgaard’s unique gifts. (May)