“The Morning Star” by Karl Ove Knausgård: Fascinatingly Enraptured | NDR.de – culture – book

Status: 05.04.2022 3:42 p.m

In “Der Morgenstern” by Karl Ove Knausgård, the characters long for a new beginning, which is heralded by the appearance of a Morgenstern. Tobias Wenzel spoke to the writer about the novel.

listen to post
4 mins

by Tobias Wenzel

I got closer and saw that they were crabs. Hundreds of crabs.
They made ticking noises.
oh shit
What was that?
reading sample

The literature professor Arne observes that animals gather in masses. Just like you know it from horror films. It seems that the animals are guided by a strange light phenomenon in the sky. They in turn discover Arne and eight other Norwegian first-person narrators. is that a morning star? Or something completely unknown, even threatening? In his new, extraordinary novel “The Morning Star”, the romantic Karl Ove Knausgård deliberately breaks with rational expectations: “We basically don’t understand almost everything we see, are and do,” says Knausgård. “But we can’t live with this uncertainty. That’s why we have theories about everything. This fear of the unknown characterizes my book a lot.”

When dead aren’t really dead

That means, for example: In these two summer days of the novel’s plot, the dead don’t really seem to be dead, for example the body of a man from whom organs are taken for organ donation. The book, impeccably translated by Paul Berf, is full of biblical references. The morning star can stand for both the devil and Jesus in the Bible. And so in the novel it is never quite clear whether the light in the sky promises the apocalypse or perhaps something good. Knausgård maintains the suspense by skilfully playing with such ambiguities: “In my childhood I learned a lot about biblical stories, but only now when I read the Bible again have I realized that the respective opposite is often there at the same time,” says the writer. “There’s also this agnostic theory that the biblical God is really the devil. That’s what I like: when everything is turned upside down.”

“The Morning Star”: The start of a series of at least five volumes

The narrative threads of most first-person narrators are only loosely connected, if at all. The characters range from a pastor who preaches charity but would rather start all over again privately, to a man who despairs of his bipolar wife, to a journalist who researches murders in the satanist scene. Much remains open. Because this novel is just the beginning of a series of at least five volumes.

Although the author lets his nine first-person narrators, including five women, always speak in the same Knausgård sound, surprisingly every single character is believed. From the concrete everyday life of his characters, the author once again confidently develops the big existential questions: What is the meaning of our existence? Does God Exist? And is there life after death? Most of the characters in the novel long for a new beginning, which is actually heralded by the appearance of the morning star. The question arises whether Karl Ove Knausgård also feels the longing to turn his back on everyday life for something completely new: “I probably did that many years ago. At the time, I longed for simplicity,” says Knausgård. “Now I think: That’s life. Somehow getting along with it – that’s what life is all about. How to appreciate everyday life and discover greatness in it, I’m writing about now instead of trying to escape everyday life.” With “The Morning Star”, Karl Ove Knausgård has succeeded in writing a novel that is both aptly realistic and fascinatingly enraptured.

The morning star

by Karl Ove Knausgard

Page number:
896 pages
Additional info:
Translated from the Norwegian by Paul Berf
Release date:
April 11, 2022
Order number:

This topic in the program:

NDR Culture | New Books | 06.04.2022 | 12:40 p.m

Keywords for this article


NDR logo