Thursday, February 7, 2019

Kafka — a book review

Kafka by Robert Crumb & David Zane Mairowitz
Fantagraphics, 2007 (Reprint edition 2013)

Franz Kafka said, 'What do I have in common with the Jews? I don't even have anything in common with myself.' This enigmatic expression of estrangement and singularity begins to capture the essence of one of the world's most fascinating authors.

And now, in a remarkable book from Fantagraphics, readers can experience in a very special way a fascinating - Kafkaesque - and compact critical biography of the canonical German-speaking Prague author.

Fully illustrated in black-and-white drawings by renowned cartoonist Robert Crumb, David Zane Mairowitz's text explores Kafka's life and works in a manner that readers will find in no other Kafka study. Yes, readers can find plenty of other books that talk about Kafka's life. And, yes, readers can also find plenty of critical studies of Kafka's works (i.e., AmerikaThe CastleHunger ArtistThe JudgmentMetamorphosisThe Penal ColonyThe Trial, and others). But here, in this slender 176 page volume from Fantagraphics, a top-notch graphic novel and comics publisher, readers get a special, unique bonus: Robert Crumb's illustrations. Through Crumb's seductively sinister artwork, readers will have a dark, powerful view into the world of self-loathing and alienation that is part-and-parcel of Kafka's fictional and biographical existence.

This book is an absolute treasure for Kafka readers. While it is perfect as an introduction to Kafka studies and essential as a healthy antidote to the thousands of so-called scholarly books and articles written about Kafka, Crumb's and Mairowitz's entertaining and informative book makes Kafka come alive in a very special way. Don't miss it!


  1. i hadn't imagined that K could ever be the subject of a comic book... although i some way, it seems to fit... i'd look at it if i ever found a copy... after all i read a graphic re Proust once...

    1. I was surprised when I wound up liking the style. Comic book for adults. It works!

  2. I really like Kafka, and I would love to read a biography about him. But I'm not sure about a graphic novel. However, if you liked it, R.T. I'd be willing to give it a try.