Amerika

Franz Kafka
Illustrated by Bill Bragg
Introduced by James Lasdun

Kafka’s first novel follows the adventures of Karl Rossman, sent away from home after getting a maid pregnant. Part social satire, part coming-of-age novel, it is lighter in tone than the rest of his fiction, and owes a debt to a writer he hugely admired: Charles Dickens.

He took his hand away from his chin, and waved it feebly, as though to indicate at one and the same time the remoteness of Europe and the insignificance of whatever plans might have been made there

Amerika was the first of Kafka’s novels, but the last to be published. A picaresque and idiosyncratic romp, it follows the adventures of Karl Rossmann, sent away from home after getting a maid pregnant, as he leaves Europe and travels across America. Kafka himself never visited America, and the novel contains many charming idiosyncrasies: San Francisco is situated on the east coast, and a bridge connects New York with Boston. 

Part social satire, part coming-of-age novel, Amerika is lighter in tone than the rest of Kafka’s fiction, and owes a debt to a writer he hugely admired: Charles Dickens. In his introduction, James Lasdun provides a fascinating exploration of two writers who shared ‘an instinctive sympathy with the downtrodden; an abiding interest in the effect of large, impersonal forces on small, vulnerable human beings’. Their differences however, he says, are equally revealing: ‘In Dickens, the source of cruelty is largely social and therefore amenable to correction. In Kafka, it is intrinsic to human existence.’ This edition is illustrated by Bill Bragg and translated by Michael Hofmann.

‘Of all the modernist writers, he is the one most easy to understand … His power resides in the state of the human soul he portrays’
  1. Malcolm Bradbury

Bound in printed paper

Set in Elysium

272 pages

Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations

Plain slipcase

9˝ x 6¼˝

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