The first thing you’ll notice about award-winning Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s The Morning Star is how big it is. At almost 700 pages, it’s a book that takes up considerable real estate not just on the nightstand or in a bag but also within the mind, demanding a particular kind of mental stamina.
It’s August on the southern coast of Norway, and a big, bright celestial object has appeared in the sky. No one knows what to make of this new star. There are speculations from scholars and experts on its sudden presence, but could there be more to this phenomenon than just science?
The title’s biblical innuendo is on point. Knausgaard not only directly and indirectly philosophizes about Jesus, Satan, purgatory, sin and resurrection but also uses these touchstones to inspire the characters whose various points of view fill these pages. There isn’t just one story to follow in The Morning Star but several, as the narrative bounces from one captivating, relatable, likable character to another.
Amid these characters’ experiences in love, marriage, teenage angst, career disappointments, mental health and global warming, the novel progresses with an unflagging consideration of the roles and significance of living and dying. In this way, The Morning Star feels at once about nothing and everything.
Knausgaard is more interested in using the novel's considerable length to introduce loose ends instead of neatly tying them up. Then again, for those who have read Knausgaard’s previous work (such as his six-volume My Struggle series), this probably doesn’t come as a surprise.
The Morning Star is dark, eerie, mesmerizing and, yes, totally worth its size.