Home and Away | Penguin Random House Canada

Home and Away

Writing the Beautiful Game

Publisher: Knopf Canada
From the always astonishing Karl Ove Knausgaard--a brilliantly unusual book to delight both reading sports fans and the literary world. Bridging the two worlds of soccer and great writing, in the tradition of Lewis's Moneyball, Hornby's Fever Pitch or Buford's Among the Thugs, Knausgaard provides us with a die-hard fan's impassioned, personal, quirky, entertaining musings on that fundamental relationship between sports and life.

I remember every single World Cup starting with the one in 1978, what I was doing, how I was living, who I was, and the world in which it took place. But I have always just watched them on TV, never in reality, and I want it to stay that way--so that´s the starting point for this book, isn't it? Life against death, yes against no, Brazil against Argentina.

     Karl Ove is sitting at home in Sweden watching the World Cup on TV (and falling asleep), with his wife, four small children and the dog; his good pal Fredrik is away in Brazil, playing beautiful football on the beach and watching the match. In this lively, argumentative, unique long-form email correspondence between them, written back and forth across the world, what begins as musings on the famous 2014 World Cup becomes (naturally) an exploration of the essential questions of life, with soccer as the catalyst for an inspiringly entertaining exchange of thoughts and ideas encompassing everything from the elusive nature of personal happiness, competitiveness, politics, insider knowledge about international football, art and literature, all rivetingly dissected with brilliance, verve and humour.


“Knausgaard and Ekelund make an ideal pair. . . . [Knausgaard’s] talent in describing his family life amid the chaos of watching and writing about football is evident throughout.” —National Post

[F]or whom these letters resonate, the effect is powerful and cascading, a pleasing waterfall of imagery and intellect. Though the correspondence is mostly about soccer, it is also about so much more.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[A] captivating tribute to soccer. Soccer fans will love Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game, perhaps persuaded by the title alone. My mission, then, is to exhort readers less familiar with the sport to try this captivating and even profound book by two writers at the top of their game. . . . Lifelong soccer fans, the authors each write from a passionate fan’s point of view, often describing the same match with wildly differing opinions. This book spoke to me as a soccer player and fan, highlighting in sublime detail the players and plays from a dramatic tournament. . . . Both authors have a knack for metaphor and apply it liberally to their sports writing. . . . Among the unexpected pleasures of the book is the power of letter writing to tell stories and deepen relationships. . . . So yes, Home and Away is about soccer, but it is, unpredictably and delightfully, much more than that.” —The Seattle Times

“[A] fantastic book of correspondence. . . . Although soccer fans will get the most of these lengthy discussions on players and tactics, readers with just a passing interest in the sport will be enlightened by their thorough exploration of how soccer has evolved over the years. . . . Filled with exquisite, solemn passages about the stark Scandinavian landscape and the quiet life of caring for children, Knausgaard’s letters are the weightier of the two. . . . As the book progresses, readers can see Knausgaard and Ekelund learning from each other, realizing new desires and prejudices, reevaluating former positions, reposition themselves. The discourse is so open, so productive and thoughtful, that when readers reach the final letter . . . sadness takes over.” —Publishers Weekly
“[T]heir interplay takes on the familiar cut and thrust of a football match. . . . [A] genuinely unusual, genuinely engaging two-hander of real affection and insight.” —Literary Review
This might be the oddest book ever written about football. It is also fascinating, insightful. . . . Both men are as keen to discuss art, politics and death as they are to reflect on the beautiful game, and this strange, unclassifiable but engrossing book is the result.” —The Sunday Times