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No writer has emerged on the world stage to more acclaim in at least a decade, and readers had to be turned away at all three of his events. On Friday at the New York Public Library, where prominent writers and journalists packed the front rows, the crowd seemed spellbound even while the Norwegian paused for nearly a full minute to consider a question from the novelist Jeffrey Eugenides. With the recent release of Book Three, readers of every stripe, it seems, are talking about Knausgaard. In February, a retired high-school teacher and critic named Emil Otto Syvertsen showed me around the area where Knausgaard, who is his former student, grew up. Along the way, Syvertsen stopped the car at an unmarked spot in the town of Grimstad, on a road that winds along the southern coast. He wanted to show me a large white farmhouse situated behind a gate and a veil of trees. Hamsun had become, in old age, a supporter of the Nazis. His backing persisted even while the Germans set up roadblocks and military installations all along the southern coast during their occupation of Norway. Fewer than eight hundred Jews currently live in the country.
First let me say a little bit about how this discussion came about:. I said "Well I haven't touched it yet. But you've convinced me. I think this is interesting in two respects: one is that all these people are people who normally write about media or write about the interface between computation and culture. And yet they also read this series of novels that has nothing to do with computation or digital culture, and is in some ways removed from that, this long writing project that in many ways represents a sort of return to a style of realism that maybe has more in common in with the early 20th century or the 19th century than it does with a lot of other contemporary literature. Chris Ingraham: Yeah, the plan I had when I came over here was to create some digital resources to help minimize barriers to accessibility for the book. So, it's sort of envisioning what fan fiction might look like for a book like this and then trying to perform that literally somehow.
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