Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard, author of six volumes of autobiographical musings entitled My Struggle, is likely the most celebrated literary writer of the current decade.
He’s a leading light of the Hapless White Guy literary genre perhaps founded by the late David Foster Wallace. Knausgaard looks like Michel Houellebecq as played by Brad Pitt.
I’m not going to read a million words by him about his mundane daily life, but in smaller doses, he’s pretty funny.
Like Houellebecq, Knausgaard is increasingly becoming an explicitly rightist writer due to his ineradicable white guyness as the rest of the world is encouraged to hate white guys.
From The New Republic:
The author of “My Struggle” on political correctness, the weight of history, and why he named his book after Hitler’s memoir
By RYU SPAETH
September 25, 2018
… There are quite a lot of things Knausgaard doesn’t like. He makes his disdain for the political-media establishment in Sweden abundantly clear in the pages of Book Six. He rails against it for being ossified in its political correctness, hypocritical in its brand of cosmopolitan bourgeois liberalism, blind in its inability to recognize how personal identity is deeply rooted in gender, tradition, nationality. He is wary of the flattening effect that globalization—or more precisely Americanization—can have on discrete national traditions. He singles out Japan (like Norway and Sweden, a tightly-knit, homogenous society) as precisely the kind of peculiar place that should remain peculiar—that should remain distinctly Japanese, unadulterated by foreign influences. “In this wide perspective, I was against immigration, against multiculturalism, against notions of sameness of nearly every kind,” he writes.
In the book, he characterizes the Swedish elite’s political correctness as an insane abstraction divorced from reality:
It was this same ideology, hostile to all difference that could not accept categories of male and female, he and she. Since han and hun are denotative of gender, it was suggested a new pronoun, hen, be used to cover both. The ideal human being was a gender-neutral hen whose foremost task in life was to avoid oppressing any religion or culture by preferring their own.
This can (and probably will) be read as reactionary, a holdout against attempts to accommodate the rights of non-binary people. But it can also be understood as part of a suspicion of all political ideologies. “What you want as a writer is complexity,” he told me. “And politics is the opposite.” Ideologies color our perception of the world, determining what is ugly and beautiful, what is moral and immoral. For Knausgaard the problem is this: How can anyone express the truth and not just unwittingly reiterate through every act and word the predominant worldview? …
At one point toward the end of our conversation Knausgaard leaned over and sheepishly said, “You asked what my politics were and for some reason I couldn’t reply to that.” He went on to insist that he is a bog-standard democratic socialist, that there is nothing to the “rumor” that he is “on the right,” that he is, above all, a committed environmentalist. But he maintained that rigid political ideologies, in Sweden and elsewhere, have made us blind to the humanity of other people.
We talked about a recent visit to the United States, where he was picked up in a car driven by a Donald Trump supporter. When he told the car’s owners, he was shocked by their response: “‘Do you want us to fire him?’ It was like they were so appalled by the fact that he was saying these things. And that was crazy, too, to think that firing him would be legitimate.” For Knausgaard, the spread of nativist populism was less alarming than the idea that the others might reject and distance themselves from these views—an unexpected stance for a writer who has completed a vast study of Nazism. The case of the Trump-supporting driver was, for him, a free speech issue. “I’m very pro-openness when it comes to these things,” he said.
When we discussed Sweden’s forthcoming elections, in which nearly a quarter of voters were expected to vote for the anti-immigration party, Knausgaard said that, despite what the media might suggest, it doesn’t mean that one in four Swedes were racist. (The far-right Sweden Democrats ended up winning 18 percent of the vote, a blow to the establishment parties but not enough to unseat them.) He noted that he himself had been accused by a prominent Swedish academic of being a fascist for daring to challenge Sweden’s culture of political correctness. And he said he knew writers who were ostracized and had lost friends because of their unpopular opinions, which goes against one of his core beliefs: that “people must be able to say whatever they want to say, especially writers.”
It is notable that Knausgaard is drawn to these disparate figures: the would-be artist, the voter who is persecuted for troublesome beliefs, the writer who is silenced. It perhaps exposes the limit of a political outlook that is otherwise so admirably grounded in the world of lived experience, since it is easier to empathize with those who are closest at hand. …