Ane Farsethås interviews KOK for the Paris Review. Here Knausgaard explains why Madame Bovary is the world's best novel:
I’ve read the novel many times, and its details are so vivid—the world is clear and crisp as a landscape after a heavy rainfall. And it has that incredible torrent of emotions and dreams and desires that gain even more force by being so fundamentally misplaced. I think it’s better than In Search of Lost Time. Proust doesn’t have that kind of concentration. Flaubert is interesting. I just read his letters, and they really go backstage. He writes about everything! The most obscene things, sex, prostitutes, what have you. They’re as chaotic as life itself. And then you see that perfectly constructed facade of the novel, which in a way contains it all, but indirectly—it’s highly controlled and composed. That made me realize the value of Bovary is much higher, a thousand times higher than the letters, even though the letters are livelier and closer to life. It’s about creating a universe that’s entirely self-contained and not just true, but actually valid. It’s that validity—which, in the best books, is endless—that is perhaps the true nature of literature.And an interesting essay by Siri Hustvedt.