Franz Kafka by Andy Warhol

Franz Kafka by Andy Warhol

Need anoth­er sug­ges­tion for #KUBook­Bin­go’s Clas­sic Fic­tion square? A nov­el or col­lec­tion of short sto­ries by Franz Kafka (or by one of the authors he influ­enced) may be just the sort of weird clas­sic you’d like to read. To do so would be the per­fect way to cel­e­brate his birth­day, for on this day in 1883, Franz Kafka was born in Prague. Some of his most famous works include A Hunger Artist, The Meta­mor­phoses, and The Tri­al. Kafka’s writ­ing, although wit­ty and hilar­i­ous, can often be dense, so it’s worth start­ing with his short sto­ries, such as A Hunger Artist or The Meta­mor­pho­sisA Hunger Artist is about a man who starves him­self for a liv­ing and strug­gles to find rel­e­vance in a world that no longer finds enter­tain­ment in his “art.” The Meta­mor­pho­sis, his most famous sto­ry, is about a man who wakes up one morn­ing to find that he has been trans­formed into a giant, cock­roach-like crea­ture. The rea­son for his trans­for­ma­tion is nev­er explained, and he must accept his new life as a feared and despised crea­ture unable to provide for his ungrate­ful fam­i­ly.

If you’re into River Song-style SPOILERS, check out Sparky Sweets’ Thug Notes’ sum­ma­ry and analy­sis of The Meta­mor­pho­sis below, because it’s great:

But if you’re in need of a chal­lenge, Kafka’s nov­el, The Tri­al, (Ya know, “light” sum­mer read­ing), is a must-read for all future lawyers, or any­one who hates lawyers, or any­one who hates them­selves, because although humor­ous, the sto­ry often drags in order to show what a “drag” the judi­cial sys­tem can be. Kafka actu­al­ly stud­ied law in col­lege, so he knew first-hand the absur­di­ty, com­plex­i­ty, and often straight-up BS of the judi­cia­ry. Kafka’s absur­dism and style of writ­ing influ­enced some of the best (and my favorite) 20th cen­tu­ry authors, such as Albert Camus and Gabriel Gar­cia Mar­quez. His style of writ­ing even inspired the word “Kafkaesque,” which is demon­strat­ed in this comic below:

kafka airplane comic

So, here’s to Kafka’s birth­day! Let’s cel­e­brate with absur­dist fic­tion and hope that the day isn’t remote­ly Kafkaesque and nev­er ends. Because that would suck.


So, what do you think?