A curious novel, Kafka’s Amerika

“A curious novel, Kafka’s Amerika: indeed, why should this young twenty-nine-year-old writer have laid his first novel in a continent where he had never set foot? This choice shows a clear intent: to not do realism; better yet: to not do a serious work. He did not even try to palliate his ignorance by research; he invented his idea of America from second-rate readings, from popular prints, and indeed, the novel’s image of America is (intentionally) made up of clichés …”

– Milan Kundera

Franz Kafka died 87 years ago today and though he has become a canonical author in many respects (if that means anything) the misunderstandings that greeted his work are not dying off quite as easily. For every Kundera attempting to redress the imbalances and point out that the blatantly farcical aspects of Kafka’s writing really are farcical and not simply existential poison pills in a nefarious disguise, there are those like recent Kafka Prize winner John Banville who insist on their preference of Kafka’s letters and aphorisms over his novels. Not that some of his letters aren’t well written, interesting, etc. … but come on ….

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Categories: Literary History, Quotes


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