Written by Kafka between 1909 and 1924, these letters offer a unique insight into the workings of the Kafka family, their relationship with the Prague Jewish community, and Kafka's own feelings about his parents and siblings. A gracious but shy woman, and a silent rebel against the bourgeois society in which she lived, Ottla Kafka was the sibling to whom Kafka felt closest. He had a special affection for her simplicity, her integrity, her ability to listen, and her pride in his work. Ottla was deported to Theresienstadt during World War II, and volunteered to accompany a transport of children to Auschwitz in 1943. She did not survive the war, but her husband and daughters did, and preserved her brother's letters to her. They were published in the original German in 1974, and in English in 1982.
"Kafka's touching letters to his sister, when she was a child and as a young married woman, are beautifully simple, tender, and fresh. In them one sees the side of his nature that was not estranged. It is lucky they have been preserved."
—V. S. Pritchett, The New York Review of Books
About Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was born in 1883 in Prague, where he lived most of his life. During his lifetime, he published only a few short stories, including “The Metamorphosis,” “The Judgment,” and “The Stoker.” He died in 1924, before completing any of his full-length novels. At the end of his life, Kafka asked his lifelong friend and literary executor Max Brod to burn all his unpublished work. Brod overrode those wishes.