Kafka is not Kafkaesque;  he’s funny – with Arnon Grunberg

Kafka is not Kafkaesque; he’s funny – with Arnon Grunberg

During his lifetime, Franz Kafka sold about a book a week. He died in 1924. Half a century later, an average of two books about him were published per week. How did this Kafka industry come about? What makes this writer’s work so special?

According to this episode’s guests, Arnon Grunberg and Michel Krielaars, we should at least drastically reduce the use of the word ‘Kafkaesque’. Kafka’s world is more than a dark nightmare in which citizens are crushed by bureaucracies. Without Kafka you even miss essential parts of culture, says Grunberg. Moreover, Kafka’s books are full of humor and dark eroticism: they are worlds where innocence does not exist, the judges read pornographic magazines and women just jump on you.

In ‘The Trial’, Josef K.’s life is suddenly disrupted when two men arrest him in his apartment. Without understanding what he is being arrested for, Josef becomes trapped in an inscrutable legal system. What does this book teach us about guilt, passivity and the functioning of our own society?

This is the seventh installment of a nine-part series about books that changed the world.

Eva Peek
Michel Krielaars & Arnon Grunberg
Editing & editing:
Jeanne Geerken
Culture Images / ANP