Menu
Menu
Search
Search
Search
Close

Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up here >>

Expand All Collapse All

Mary Watterson

“You know nothing about anything, about what awaits you, the kind of world you will be born into." This, the opening sentence to this book, is very apt. Knausgaard takes the reader through the months leading up to the birth of his daughter.

Each autumnal month begins with a letter to his unborn daughter telling her of the world in to which she will be born, her new family and refers to her progress in the womb. He adds 20 short pieces per month covering a miscellaneous list of descriptions: wasps, lightning, toilet bowls to name a few. He often alludes to his own experiences and childhood memories.

Knausgaard uses wonderful and unusual descriptions drawing attention to interesting details. I particularly liked his reference to jellyfish having a "majestic air of dignity as they float through the water" and gum flecked paving resembling a starry sky under streetlights.

This book would be ideal in a cruise ship library as it can be easily read in snippets.

Patty Rodgerson

This book is a compilation of very detailed descriptions of chosen subjects and feelings, as a way for the author to communicate his experiences to his unborn daughter. It appears to be a guide to the world the child will encounter.

The format (3 letters and 60 vignettes) makes it possible to read each individual entry and leave the book. It does not have the allure of the linear structure. Each entry is independent and although they are connected by its purpose of being a legacy, they do not influence the understanding of the reader.

The letters are very personal and some paragraphs are filled with nostalgia and memories from the author’s recollections. There are some powerful quotes regarding the influence in a person’s development of their home environment and family attitudes.

Each account is well outlined. The writer, not only describes colours, textures and smells but he also offers his thoughts, feelings and opinions.

I am not keen on the style of the illustrations. The dark, strong colours and the grotesque human shapes do not enrich the book.

I found the book interesting but not captivating. Although an easy read, it did not grip my attention.

Alison Johnson

I personally found this book a very easy read as, being divided into short two or three page observations, which covered a diverse range of subject matter, you could pick and choose which ones to read. You could dip into it time and again and discover something new.

He covers topics, such as 'beds', which we take for granted and do not give much thought to, 'tin cans' which he refers to as 'time capsules', 'vomit' which I found quite gross and observations of the mundane - 'buttons' I especially related to his thoughts on old 'telephones' which were relevant to a certain generation, of which I am one! Some of his topics were also quite informative, as in 'jellyfish'.

Although his intention at the outset was to show his forthcoming baby the world, and you can imagine, with experience of young children, their wonderment at all things new to them, I felt he was really doing it for himself to make his life worth living. With saying this he certainly made me think about and be more conscious of objects we come into contact with daily.

Ann Petersen

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 daily life with his wife and children in rural Sweden, drawing upon memories of his own childhood and reflecting the unique bond between parent and child. However, one does wonder whether this book is written by the author for the author and not for his daughter as by the time his daughter is old enough to read the book she will have discovered the world for herself and have her own experiences of life on which to draw on.

Susan Oliver

This is the first volume of Knausgaard’s Seasons Quartet, where he writes letters to his unborn daughter, introducing the book as an attempt to show her ‘the world as it is now’. It is illustrated by several works by Vanessa Baird. There are 60 separate 2 to 3 page sections of thoughts about everyday things like Plastic Bags, Toilet Bowls, Badgers, Chimneys.

Knausgaard is a master of observation and introspection. He describes daily life with his family in Sweden, drawing on memories of his own childhood in this deeply personal narrative. Whenever his relationship with his father comes in, the tension is seen.

He makes us acutely aware of things we take for granted and leads us to take a closer look at the world around us. It is a book that encourages one to read certain sections more than once. Some of these pieces work better than others, and we do learn a bit about Knausgaard himself.

I sometimes felt that some of his meaning may have been distorted in the translation, particularly in some of the metaphors used.