He: Shorter Writings of Franz Kafka (Paperback)
A new selection of Franz Kafka’s shorter fiction and nonfiction work, selected and with a preface by Book of Numbers author Joshua Cohen.
“Being asked to write about Kafka is like being asked to describe the Great Wall of China by someone who’s standing just next to it. The only honest thing to do is point.” —Joshua Cohen, from his foreword to He: Shorter Writings of Franz Kafka
This is a Kafka emergency kit, a congregation of the brief, the minor works that are actually major. Joshua Cohen has produced a frame that refuses distinctions between what is a story, a letter, a workplace memo, and a diary entry, also including popular favorites like The Bucket Rider, The Penal Colony, and The Burrow. Here we see Kafka’s preoccupations in writing about animals, messiah variations, food, and exercise, each in his signature style.
Cohen’s selection emphasizes the stately structure of utterly coherent logic within an utterly incoherent and illogical world, showing how Kafka harnessed the humblest grammar to metamorphic power, until the predominant effect ceases to be the presence of an unreliable narrator but the absence of the universe’s only reliable narrator—God.
About the Author
Franz Kafka (1883–1924) is one of the best-known writers in the German language. He is especially famous for The Metamorphosis, The Trial, and The Castle, as well as his many shorter works. 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 At the end of his life, Kafka asked his lifelong friend and literary executor Max Brod to burn all his unpublished work.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.
Joshua Cohen was born in 1980 in New Jersey. He is the author of several books, including A Heaven of Others and Witz. His nonfiction has appeared in Bookforum, The Forward, Harper's and other publications. He lives in New York City.