"This is not your average book about football"by Chris Tilbury / November 17, 2016 / Leave a comment
Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game by Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund (Harvill Secker, £18.99)
Despite the title and cover image of seats in a stadium, this is not your average book about football. The Scandinavian authors of Home and Away, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund, are not sports writers, nor do they have huge amounts of experience in the game, which makes a book recounting their experiences of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, told through a series of written exchanges, a strange proposition.
Ekelund, a novelist and translator, was in the country for the tournament and writes of his experiences playing beach football and drinking in Brazilian bars. In contrast, Knausgaard, the bestselling Norwegian author of the My Struggle series, was touring Sweden on a book tour and gives humorous anecdotes from the various events.
While their discussions of the matches are interesting—both held a soft-spot for Croatia as they admirably faced off against the hosts in the early stages and wondered at Robin van Persie’s diving header for the Netherlands against Spain—their conversations meander across a variety of subjects. Their correspondence is, at times, very personal and the reader gets the impression that the two writers are connecting on a deeper level, able to express views and thoughts that they wouldn’t share with anyone else. It is this feeling that as a reader you are being welcomed into a lively conversation about politics, life and everything in between, which makes the book so enjoyable and engrossing.