Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Time for Everything, Karl O. Knausgaard-Norwegian translation

"Can the nature of the divine undergo change, and can the immortal perish?"

The inside cover of this book, translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson, asks this very thought provoking question.   It's with that in mind that I started reading this epic novel.  By epic, I don't just mean huge.  Rather, it is a story that overlaps generations in an almost Biblical retelling of key events in history and in legend.  The premise is that a young man has an encounter with two angelic beings and thereafter makes a study of them and their interactions with mankind over time.

While I can say that Knausgaard writes beautifully, and his descriptions are layered and complicated, I can't say I enjoyed the book.  I have to confess I didn't get very far into it:  the retelling of certain events and the imagined interaction of Biblical characters struck me as creepy and slightly disturbing.  For example, while the Bible goes into very little detail about Cain, this novel expands greatly on him and attempts to change his persona greatly.  Some may find this fascinating, and given the current cultural focus on angels, perhaps they would enjoy this imagined telling.  It just wasn't my style.

Thanks to Jill at Archipelago Books for this Reader's Copy.  It can be purchased at or through

1 comment:

  1. do you think it might be a translation problem or maybe a cultural understanding problem? after reading a few books translated from norweigan and ending up thinking 'huh?? WTF was that???' i've decided not to read one ever again. unless everyone says it's brilliant and then i might be persuaded to try again :-)