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Knausgaard-free daysKarl Ove Knausgaard is now the author du jour in the English-speaking world, with three more books still to come. And almost every article you read about him and his 6-volume memoir titled My Struggle says that the books were so popular in his native Norway when first published that, depending upon who is talking, the government or corporate heads or lunchtime cafeteria mavens dictated that there would be “Knaussgaard-free days” when one was not allowed to talk about the book or the author, not at work, not in government offices, and not even at lunch in the company cafeteria.

This PR fib has gone viral outside of Norway, and it’s been repeated over and over in such fact-checking publications as The New York Times and the New Yorker. Only thing is that nobody stopped to fact-check this. I did. There were never ever any Knausgaard-free days in Norway. Not once, not ever. Not one Norwegian newspaper or magazine has reported any evidence of such a thing occurring in a democratic country like Norway where free speech is allowed. Only the press in the UK and in America. Fact-checking has gone out the window?

So how did this happen? My guess is that these so-called Knaussgaard-free days were most likely the work of a savvy publisher or editor in the English-speaking world, who told a lazy reporter that yes there were many, many Knausgaard-free days in Norway. And the reporter, not wanting to miss out on the next big scoop, wrote it down and reported it as truth.

I could be wrong, however, so show me one source or reference in the Norwegian language or in a Norwegian newspaper or magazine about these so-called Knausgaard-free days.

Curious to learn more. Here’s some recent references.

A recent New Yorker magazine blog post notes: “…some employers have had to impose Knausgaard-free days in the workplace.” Some employers? Which ones?

Even the New York Times Sunday Book Review joins in with “It is said that they Norwegian companies have had to declare “Knausgaard-free” days – no reading, no discussion – so work can get done.” It is said? By whom? I’d expect better from some of the publications which continue to propagate this urban myth.

Perhaps the kind folks at Snopes should investigate?

 
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