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Kafka began writing what he had entitled Der Verschollene (The Missing Person) in 1912 and wrote the last completed chapter in 1914. But it wasn’t until 1927, three years after his death, that Max Brod, Kafka’s friend and literary executor, edited the unfinished manuscript and published it as Amerika. Kafka’s first and funniest novel, Amerika tells the story of the young Karl Rossmann who, after an incident involving a housemaid, is banished by his parents to America. Expected to redeem himself in this magical land of opportunity, young Karl is swept up instead in a whirlwind of dizzying reversals, strange escapades, and picaresque adventures.
“We are not too far wrong to see in Karl Rossmann the explorer who maps the internal territory for the later Kafka hero Joseph K. of The Trial. It is a natural segue, after all, from the youth who lives to placate to the adult with the inescapable sense of guilt. In fact, we could propose Kafka as an artist in a lifelong search of the most accommodating conceit for his vision. Karl is the earliest of his eponymous heroes, all of them essentially one tormented soul whose hallucinatory landscape keeps changing.” —E. L. Doctorow
“More than eighty years after his death from tuberculosis at age forty, Kafka continues to defy simplifications, to force us to consider him anew. That’s the effect of Mark Harman’s new translation of Amerika.” —Los Angeles Times