Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book 69-Hunger (105th Book)

The book of the month for September was Hunger by Knut Hamsun....never mind that it is now October! I read through this novel in less than a week and I am hopeful that means I will catch up in the following months. My slacking off in the month of August has really set me back! Hunger was an easy read and one that I was thoroughly fascinated by. It is written by a Norwegian author, but has a lot of similarities to Russian novels, namely in its treatment of the poor instead of the wealthy.

Hunger reminded me a great deal of Crime and Punishment, Malone Dies and also Kafka's novels. The further down the list I get the more I realize that having these classics under my belt will allow me to make comparisons between authors and novels. There is truly nothing new under the sun.

This novel follows a nameless narrator who is slowly starving to death as he fumbles around trying to make a living. The story follows him as he tries to raise money through various means, as his hair falls out due to malnourishment and also as his mind gives way to fantastical ramblings. This is one of the clearest and easiest to follow examples of stream of consciousness literature that I have read to date. I am not always a fan of stream of consciousness literature, but this one does the job well.

I have always been a fan of literature that focuses on the poor and this novel didn't disappointment me. It really shows the struggles that the poor and homeless face in a realistic and terrifying manner. It is HARD work trying to find a way to feed yourself everyday when you don't have a roof over your head and every action is harder when compounded by hunger. Rather than focus on just the day to day suffering of the narrator we also see some of his psychological troubles as well. Like many, when faced with hard trials he believes that God is against him. "Was the hand of the Lord turned against me?" He also wonders what makes him different from everyone else and why all this trouble has to happen to him specifically. "Was I not just as much entitled to live as anyone else?" I think these are common thoughts that people ask themselves when facing difficult challenges.

The novel also has a feeling of poetry to it. There are several descriptions of surroundings that are quite beautiful. "It is the reign of Autumn, the height of the Carnival of Decay." The narrator has heightened senses due to his hunger and pays attention to everything including the minute details.

I had never heard of these novel before, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. It may just be one of the few novels that I would rate highly at the tail end of this list. The further down I go the grumpier I get. I was happy to find this gem which I was quite pleased with. I have no idea what to expect from the next novel, Berlin Alexanderplatz but I will pick it up from the library this weekend since it is still quite pricey as an ebook and I don't know what I will think of it.

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