The Scatology of Karl Ove Knausgaard

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Finally, the Paris Review answers the question we’ve all been wondering about Karl Ove Knausgaard and his mega-novel My Struggle: what’s with all the shitting?

That gratuitous attention to detail may explain why these scenes jump out at readers, but it doesn’t explain Knausgaard’s minor obsession with shit. To be sure, the inclusion of these scenes is consistent with Knausgaard’s maximalist approach to the quotidian novel. “The banality of the everyday”—what Knausgaard is after in My Struggle—includes the human experience of basic biological functions. But there’s more to it than that.


Claire Burgess’s short fiction has appeared in Third Coast, Hunger Mountain, and PANK online, among others. Her stories have received special mentions in the Pushcart Prize and Best American anthologies, but haven’t actually made it into one yet. She’s a graduate of the Vanderbilt University MFA program, where she co-founded Nashville Review. She lives in Pittsburgh by way of the deep South and says things on Twitter @Clairabou_. More from this author →