About this project
Who We Are
“These handsome and mysterious books are indispensable to me, both as a reader and writer. I eagerly await whatever may come next from Archipelago.”
"Archipelago Books has earned the respect and support of every serious reader. I’m one of those readers and I have a special shelf reserved for books that Archipelago publishes. These are handsomely designed volumes containing the work of important writers who might otherwise remain in the deep distance of English-language translation. Translators themselves are the subversive force that helps keep literature alive on a global scale.”
By publishing exceptional and groundbreaking international literature, we hope to illuminate other literary traditions and ways of being. To read international literature is to gain understanding and empathy for others, to erase perceived differences, and to reveal a common humanity. In this time of possibility and change, we urge you to believe in the notion that all this can begin with a book.
Archipelago continues to unearth gems from every corner of the globe—in ten short years we have published more than 90 titles. Our books frequently shed light on underrepresented or forgotten locales – the farms of the Dutch platteland, the war-torn Balkan region, the cold yet vibrant reaches of Iceland and Chukotka, the Bosphorus, and the Parisian banlieues. They often defy genre, allowing prose, poetry, art, philosophy, and travel writing to coexist and converse. Our books are seldom conventional – each one is a masterwork of the imagination.
During this time of retreat from printed materials and books with long shelf lives, we are all the more committed to producing beautiful editions using the finest and most ecologically sound materials available. Archipelago books are unmistakable in appearance, and they are a pleasure to hold and touch (as well as to read).
Archipelago works in partnership with like-minded organizations here and abroad, orchestrating promotional tours for our authors and translators. We are grateful for the generous support of foundations (both private and governmental), international cultural organizations, and the contributions of individual donors. The community around Archipelago is growing thanks to the enthusiasm of booksellers, professors, librarians, our extraordinary authors and translators, and our devoted readers. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. If you also believe in our mission of fostering international dialogue and peace through literature, we ask you to please consider supporting our cause.
Archipelago depends on contributions from individuals like you to ensure the work of these important artists are brought into the English-speaking world. We are a financially sound organization. Book sales, however, cover only a third of our expenses, which is why your support is absolutely vital.
We are raising money to fund the publication of a hardcover edition of My Struggle: Book One by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett. The My Struggle series has caused an international sensation: in Norway, companies have instated “Knausgaard-free days”. Reviewers praised it to the skies: “Intense and vital … utterly alive, with superb, celestial passages” (James Wood, The New Yorker), “Breathtakingly good … arrestingly beautiful” (The New York Times Book Review), “Beautifully rendered” (The Wall Street Journal).
Book One is a nerve-striking, addictive piece of hyper-realism, a stunning and laceratingly honest bildungsroman. Almost ten years have passed since Karl Ove Knausgaard’s father drank himself to death. Vulnerable and assailed by doubts, he is now embarking on a new novel. With an uncanny eye for detail, Knausgaard breaks down his own life story to its elementary particles, reliving memories, reopening wounds, and examining with candor the turbulence and the epiphanies that emerge from his own experience of fatherhood, the fallout in the wake of his father’s death, and his visceral connection to music, art, and literature. Negotiating intimacy, love, and fear lie at the heart of his movements and mind as he moves from self-deprecation to self-absorption, from craving solitude to exposing an insatiable need for love and admiration, from alienation to harmony. Karl Ove’s dilemmas strike nerves that give us raw glimpses of our particular moment in history as we witness what happens to the sensitive and churning mind of a young man trying—as if his very life depended on it—to find his place in the disjointed world around him. This Proustian masterpiece opens a window into one of the most original minds writing today.
We first published Book One in 2012 as a trade paperback, when Knausgaard was relatively unknown in the U.S. We are publishing the rest of the series in beautiful trade cloth editions: an expensive proposition. Our books are printed on acid-free recycled paper, with smyth-sewn binding and 4-inch flaps. The entire series is in a unique, 6 ¼ x 7 ½ trim size, and our special cloth edition of Book One will feature the art of abstract expressionist Anselm Kiefer on the cover. We need your help to produce a trade cloth edition of Book One to complete the My Struggle set in hardcover. The amount we hope to raise, $20,000, will cover two-thirds of the cost of printing such an edition.
With your help, we plan to publish this special, hardcover edition of Book One alongside the publication of Book Three in July 2014.
Praise for My Struggle
“Perhaps the most significant literary enterprise of our time.” —The Guardian
“Why would you read a six-volume, 3,600-page Norwegian novel about a man writing a six-volume, 3,600-page Norwegian novel? The short answer is that it is breathtakingly good, and so you cannot stop yourself, and would not want to ... Arrestingly beautiful.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Knausgaard is intense and utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties … Superb, lingering, celestial passages … Placid, plain, achieved. [With] what Walter Benjamin called ‘the epic side of truth, wisdom.’” —James Wood, The New Yorker
“This first installment of an epic quest should restore jaded readers to life.” —The Independent
“Beautifully rendered and, at times, painfully observant, his book does a superlative job of finding that ‘inner core of human existence.’” —The Wall Street Journal
“The book kept me up till two almost every morning for a week . . . Real and singleminded in his storytelling. I don’t read Norwegian, but it’s hard to believe that the translator, Don Bartlett, could have made such vital, humane prose—over such a long stretch—unless he was hewing close to a work of genius.” —Lorin Stein, The Paris Review
“Between Proust and the woods. Like granite; precise and forceful. More real than reality.” —La Repubblica (Italy)
“A rope round the neck, a knife in the heart. The book is full of magic. The world simply opens up ... Knausgaard will have the same status as Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun.” —Kristeligt Dagblad (Denmark)
What You'll Receive
By contributing to this project, you will be supporting writers and translators from around the world who, in the words of Don DeLillo, “help keep literature alive on a global scale.” In addition to our sincere gratitude, you’ll also receive a range of our special rewards—limited edition postcards, posters, signed editions, and a subscription to the entire My Struggle series.
Please support us by donating whatever amount you can—no donation is too small; every bit counts!—and by spreading the word about our campaign.
Risks and challenges
The challenges we face have to do with the inherently long-term nature of this project.
We have committed to publishing all six volumes of the MY STRUGGLE series in hardcover editions. This requires an enormous amount of time and resources: we must pay acquisition, translation, and production costs, including design expenses and a hefty printing bill, not to mention the costs of editorial, marketing, and publicity work.
In addition, it will be a challenge to sustain the interest of readers in the MY STRUGGLE series over time. Our translator, Don Bartlett, is committing a heroic feat by translating all six volumes; we plan to publish one book a year. It will be an uphill battle to continue to secure review and feature coverage as later books are released.
That said, we are confident we can rise to these challenges. We have a decade-long history of publishing books that are not always commercially viable, but are nonetheless critical and literary successes. We ensure our books succeed by establishing partners in promotion and publicity, securing first serial excerpts in major literary magazines like Harper's (as we did for MY STRUGGLE: BOOK TWO), and printing galleys and advance reader copies to spread the word through old-fashioned word of mouth and grassroots publicity. We will organize an author tour for Karl Ove Knausgaard in major cities in the United States, post videos of our events on our YouTube channel, and run marketing promotions to ensure that the entire series is a success.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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