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Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  459 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Two world-class writers reveal themselves to be the ultimate soccer fans in these collected letters

Karl Ove Knausgaard is sitting at home in Skåne with his wife, four small children, and dog. He is watching soccer on TV and falls asleep in front of the set. He likes 0-0 draws, cigarettes, coffee, and Argentina.

Fredrik Ekelund is away, in Brazil, where he plays soccer on th
...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published November 25th 2014)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  459 ratings  ·  65 reviews


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Lee Klein
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was a little bummed when I saw that My Struggle: Book Six wouldn't be published in English until 2018, meaning the annual tradition of a new installment would be put on hold for a year, but this nicely subs-in and fulfills the 2017 Knausgaard need. In many ways I loved this, loved hunkering down with it now that winter has reappeared in mid-March (writing this as sleety snow taps the bedroom windows) after that premature spring/summer we experienced in February, and like that string of seventy ...more
Matt
Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.
-- Gary Lineker

It’s the 16th of June 2018 and another Football ⚽ World Cup is upon us (that’s “soccer” for my American friends). In fact the tournament started two days ago with the first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. I have to confess that I’m not a great football fan, and my knowledge of the game is limited. I don’t even know all of the players’ names of “my” team (Germany). Bu
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Mark McKenny
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to receive a proof from the guys at Vintage, and I feel privileged to have done so. I would have bought this book and gobbled it up anyway.. the good thing was I was able to do that sooner, and can now write this review telling you why it gets 5 stars.

1) It's Knausgaard, and for me, this guy and his writing can't go wrong. Why do I love his writing so much? Because it's pure. It's just, about, well, life. His life, my life, all our lives. His writing makes me happy that I am l
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Tobias
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2017
Perhaps the only book you'll read this year in which the authors attempt to find a soccer equivalent to Virginia Woolf's prose.
David Ball
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is there anything better than Murakami and running? Yes, Knausgaard and football. This time he has a foil in effervescent Swede Fredrik Ekelund, a perfect contrast to the ascetic Norwegian. The book is a series of letters (or emails more likely) between the two writers exchanged during the World Cup summer of 2014. Ekelund is by himself in Brazil, Knausgaard is with his family in Sweden. Both share their thoughts, news, stories, and of course insights into matches as the tournament progresses. F ...more
Campbell
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
If I were a football fan I'm quite sure this would have been a back-of-the-net five stars. As I'm not, however, it's still a pretty solid 4. Knausgaard, as always, is endlessly fascinating.
Melting Uncle
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished2017
I'm a fan of Knausgaard but have never spent time with soccer aka "football".

The sports writing held my interest although I half-skimmed some of it. Wow, these dudes can write!

I'm glad I got to know Frederik.

If you're a Karl Ove fan, he has some amazing parts in here. On par with My Struggle for sure.

I'm really glad I read this but would only recommend it to people who are already KOK fans.
Chris
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, essays, 2017
As a book about the beautiful game, maybe 3 stars - of interest to those that understand the game and its history, but little relevance to others. However, if you've read the My Struggle series, this is a fascinating and quick read of the man behind the scenes. Almost an addendum of what those books did for him, in letter form.
Raul Clement
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
You don't have to be a soccer fan to enjoy this book. I'm not. But both authors write excellently and they capture the atmosphere and excitement of the World Cup, which even I have been sucked into occasionally.

Besides, the book includes a lot that is unrelated to soccer. Knausgaard is one of my favorite writers, and a lot of what attracts me in his writing is evident here: the emotional insight; the intellectual honesty; the close attention to detail. I particularly enjoyed the passages where
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Jack M
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Personally Knausgard represents some kind of fantasy life: a writer / cultural icon who had the fortune to grow up generous welfare state where one can focus life on reading, thinking, writing. And this is why I like to hear about his thoughts and how he spends his days. I can't imagine being intrigued if this was authored by an average middle classed American male. The bearded and smoking photographs that have been mass marketed also add to the allure.

Writing the Beautiful Game is like of a so
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David
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
The writing is wonderful if you like My Struggle, but really have to be a soccer fan to get through it. I think it's a book-long metaphor, but I didn't make it all the way through so I'm not sure.
Rating reflects more of my ignorance than the authors' skill or style.
Nancy
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars if you love both Karl Ove (I do) AND soccer.
Dave Geyer
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an absolute delight! I planned my reading to finish on the same date that the book and the 2014 World Cup ended. Reliving the tournament from the perspective of these two brilliant writers was thrilling. Though this book may not be for everyone, I'm clearly among the ideal target audience to enjoy this work. It is about soccer and the World Cup, but also so much more - travel, culture, politics, literature, family, fatherhood, to name a few. If you happen to be the rare American with some o ...more
Abigail Connors
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book, full of memoir-y and philosophical digressions. The only reason I gave it 4 stars is b/c although I knew enough about soccer to get by, I probably would have enjoyed it more if I were familiar with the World Cup teams.
joey t
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'd give Karl Ove's shopping list 3 stars.
Al
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon finishing all of the currently available My Struggle books, I was itching to read some more Knausgaard to hold me over until book 6 is translated. My experience with soccer includes a few years playing in elementary school and watching not more than a couple of World Cup games in the last decade. I was excited to get Knausgaard's perspective on a world and culture I knew little about, in Knausgaard's signature writing style which is beautiful in it's simplicity and somehow always relatable ...more
Hiran Venugopalan
Amazingly written. But not my cup of tea.
Michael Kitchen
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is awesome.

I decided to read it alongside the 2018 World Cup, wrapping up the final 50 pages tonight after France's 4-2 victory over Croatia. The exchange between the Norwegian Knausgaard and Swedish Ekelund (who was writing from Brazil during the 2014 World Cup) covered not only soccer but other topics such as writing, family, and religion. I loved this book so much that I plan on reading it during every World Cup that I am still around to see.
Ry
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
The perfect read in anticipation of this summer's world cup. Granted, you have to like Knausgard, it's somewhat mandatory that you enjoy soccer, and it helps if you watched the last World Cup as it is the basis for all of their conversations. I check all of these boxes and so I loved it and found myself rewatching the games and highlights as I made my way through the book.
Luis Borjas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eric Sutton
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of Karl Ove's writing and of the Min Kamp series, and with the last volume not due to arrive until 2018, I was happy to pick up Home and Away in the interim. The book reads as a series of letters between Karl Ove and his friend Fredrik Ekelund, a Swedish novelist and journalist stationed in Brazil to cover the 2014 World Cup. What begins as correspondence about football quickly digresses into myriad topics: family, geopolitics, travel, culture, literature. If you've read Karl Ove ...more
Max
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I read about half of this. I enjoy Knausgaard's writing but I'm not an obsessive fan, and the soccer analysis is mediocre of course. The writing was good and I enjoyed the football/World Cup nostalgia.
Rebecca
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, essays, sports
Most of the reviews here come from people who are fans of Karl Ove Knausgard, and not soccer. I am the opposite - I live and die for soccer, but had never heard of KOK before this. After finishing this, I have no inclination to read any of his work. Perhaps I simply read his book at the wrong time, after too many books where I was expected to sympathize with a whiny male protagonist, and could not bring myself to care about the lives of two men so committed to their own ways they will not accept ...more
Rachel
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essay, 2017
There are a couple of reasons you might read this book: soccer fandom or Karl Ove Knausgaard fandom (apologies to Fredrik Ekelund, who turns out to be just as good in this as KO). While soccer is high on my list of sports to watch, that hardly means much since I only watch when the World Cup comes around; that puts me in the second category. As such, I couldn't sustain my interest to actually read more than 80% or so. Toward the end I just started skimming to see if anything non-soccer-related j ...more
Abhishek Kona
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Its a very interesting format. Letters give the writer the freedom to express his point of view without interruption, with justification. The other person can chose to contest, acknowledge or ignore the points. The best world-cup in the modern era, Brazil 2014 provides a great background.

This book is not about football.
Don
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-100
What a concept! A brilliant idea that could have gone wrong in so many ways. But instead it was just so fun to read -- to experience the World Cup with these enthralling writers -- that I paced myself. I didn't want the book or the World Cup to end.

Two sublime stream-of-consciousness writers who were up to the task, relating their lives, their thoughts, and their love for the beautiful game, all while experiencing the 2014 World Cup in real time.

Could this also work for the World Series? Perhaps
...more
Daniel Casey
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
As a correspondence these two men have made a safe space for themselves to ramble on about football. Sometimes that rambling is engaging like a good pub discussion but mostly it's banal & rather frequently unapologetically chauvinist & racist.

Knausgaard is the Jonathan Franzen of Europe. His sexism is so casual. I suppose I shouldn't expect less from a writer whose success is predicated on mansplaining 'not all men' over 3600 pages. Ekelund balances this with a fervent distaste or fetishization
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David C Ward
An înteresting exchange of letters between Knausgaard and Ekelund written during WC 2014, with K in Europe and E in Brazil. Knausgaard is far more interesting and raises the more provocative topics about nationalism and modernity, creativity etc. He also gets into the hostility toward him and his work in Sweden and the problem of identity politics. Ekelund tens to fall into the trap of colorful Brazil - sun samba etc. For one thing Brazil has not played with great flair since about 1982 preferri ...more
Max
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Karl Ove shines in his typical fashion; even though the main topic is football, which I don't care about, he comfortably veers away into other territories of domestic daily humdrum, discussions of literature, culture, and current events. His style is what captivates and keeps the reader engaged. When Fredrik tries to emulate him and does the same (play by play descriptions of what he did during the day, what he ate, who he saw), it falls flat and is not interesting. We learn more about Karl Ove ...more
Hamish
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
in the end basically a struggle to get through due to my own disinterest in football - but i knew what i was getting myself into. the best parts were knausgaard's musing on his own quiet life and ekelund's childlike wonder with basically everything he came across. the football was the second-most important thing here.
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Nominated to the 2004 Nordic Council’s Literature Prize & awarded the 2004 Norwegian Critics’ Prize.

Karl Ove Knausgård (b. 1968) made his literary debut in 1998 with the widely acclaimed novel Out of the World, which was a great critical and commercial success and won him, as the first debut novel ever, The Norwegian Critics' Prize. He then went on to write six autobiographical novels, titled My S
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