Karl Ove Knausgaard Named 2017 Laureate for Jerusalem Prize in Literature

The Norwegian author, best known for autobiographical epic 'My Struggle,' will accept the award at the Jerusalem International Book Fair in June

Karl Ove Knausgaard
Karl Ove Knausgaard Robin Linderborg/Wikimedia Commons

This year’s Jerusalem Prize for literature will be awarded to the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, who is known chiefly for “My Struggle,” a six-book series of autobiographical novels.

The prize is awarded every two years to a writer whose work, according to the website of the Jerusalem International Book Fair, best expresses and promotes the idea of “freedom of the individual in society.” The prize, which carries a $10,000 cash award, will be presented to Knausgaard during the fair.

This year's book fair will take place from June 11 to June 15. For the first time since it was established in 1963, it will be held concurrently with Hebrew Book Week. In another first, the fair is being organized in cooperation with the Book Publishers Association of Israel.

Local authors such as Meir Shalev, A.B. Yehoshua and Dorit Rabinyan will participate in the fair, alongside guests from abroad, who will include Philippe Claudel, Sacha Batthyany, Valter Hugo Mãe (Valter Hugo Lemos), Deborah Lipstadt and Jan Peter Bremer, among others. The writers, together with some 300 Israeli and foreign publishers, will hold writing workshops, activities for children and public meetings at a number of venues around the city.

The most recent literature prize was awarded in 2015 to the Albanian author Ismail Kadare. Previous prize laureates include Ian McEwan, Mario Varga Llosa, Haruki Murakami, Susan Sontag and J.M. Coetzee.

Knausgaard, who was born in 1968, won literary fame with his first book, “Out of the World.” Published in 1998, it was awarded the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature. His second novel, “A Time for Everything,” also won a number of awards, but it was “My Struggle,” published in Norwegian between 2009 and 2011, that brought Knausgaard international fame.

The project has been described as a literary and cultural force, and it has drawn admiring reviews, including a number of comparisons with Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time,” in respected publications worldwide.

The award ceremony will take place on the first day of the book fair, and in contrast to the fair’s other events, it will be closed to the public.