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Konundrum by Franz Kafka
  • Paperback $18.00

    Nov 01, 2016 | 384 Pages

  • Ebook $14.99

    Nov 01, 2016 | 384 Pages

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“The translator Peter Wortsman’s excellent and bracing new selection of Kafka’s stories, Konundrum: Selected Prose of Franz Kafka (published by Archipelago Books), brings the author’s peculiar rhetoric to glorious life.” — Los Angeles Review of Books

“Even a year after the centennial celebration of Franz Kafka’s signature novella Die Verwandlung, commonly known as The Metamorphosis, Peter Wortsman’s latest English translation—which he simply titles “Transformed,” feels downright fresh. Konundrum: Selected Prose of Franz Kafka promises to lure a new generation of casual readers, if not jaded scholars—for its streamlined, playful prose (which still manages to stay faithful to Kafka’s German syntax), as well as its contemporary concerns and sensibilities… Konundrum’s prescient vision of identity mediated, controlled, and distorted via the gaze of popular trend and opinion makes it relevant, if not required, reading.” Brooklyn Rail

“Composed of short, black comic parables, fables, fairy tales, and reflections, Konundrum also includes classic stories like ‘In the Penal Colony,’ Kafka’s prescient foreshadowing of the nightmare of the twentieth century, refreshing the writer’s mythic storytelling powers for a new generation of readers.” — Jewish Book Council

“Based on this collection, I’d like to see more of Wortsman’s work . . . Kafka is the vegemite of high-brow literature. You either hate it, love it, or hate it and then realise you love it. Konundrum is an excellent starting place to try his stuff out.” — Peter Kelly, Super Novel

“The translation is superb and it seems as though Kafka himself has written in English. This is a book you can dip into, read a couple of stories at a time. But be warned – it is addictive. It is also not conducive to a good night’s sleep – too many weird and wonderful fancies start to rattle around in your brain. Konundrum is a real literary treat and will hopefully bring the exquisite prose of Kafka the acclaim in the English speaking world that it fully deserves.” — Rosemary Standeven, Waterstones

“[Kafka] spoke for millions in their new unease; a century after his birth, he seems the last holy writer, and the supreme fabulist of modern man’s cosmic predicament.” –John Updike

“Kafka’s survey of the insectile situation of young Jews in inner Bohemia can hardly be improved upon: ‘With their posterior legs they were still glued to their father’s Jewishness and with their wavering anterior legs they found no new ground.’ There is a sense in which Kafka’s Jewish question (‘What have I in common with Jews?’) has become everybody’s question, Jewish alienation the template for all our doubts. What is Muslimness? What is femaleness? What is Polishness? These days we all find our anterior legs flailing before us. We’re all insects, all Ungeziefer, now.” –Zadie Smith

“[Kafka’s] stories are dreamlike, allegorical, symbolic, parabolic, grotesque, ritualistic, nasty, lucent, extremely personal, ghoulishly detached, exquisitely comic, numinous, and prophetic.” –The New York Times

“The distinction Kafka, or his heroes, draw between this world and the world does not imply that there are two different worlds, only that our habitual conceptions of reality are not the true conception.” –W. H. Auden

“Kafka engaged in no technical experiments whatsoever; without in any way changing the German language, he stripped it of its involved constructions until it became clear and simple, like everyday speech purified of slang and negligence. The common experience of Kafka’s readers is one of general and vague fascination, even in stories they fail to understand, a precise recollection of strange and seemingly absurd images and descriptions–until one day the hidden meaning reveals itself to them with the sudden evidence of a truth simple and incontestable.” –Hannah Arendt

“Kafka’s ‘stark narratives and furtive fragments’ – a series of alerts and premonitions from the unconscious of a genius – are powerfully resonant today.” – Jane Ciabattari, BBC Culture

“Kafka’s writing is so effective because it plays within an area of overlap between the two worlds. The result, of course, is the Kafkaesque, a mode that is entirely unto itself.” – Nicole Rudick, The Paris Review

“Wortsman, who is both a fiction writer, and a translator, changed the way I think about Kafka… Could we call him pre-cognitive of both the 20 and 21st centuries?  In this translation, he’s a man for any time.” — Susan Weinstein, notanotherbookreview (blog)

“I was struck by the variety in the fiction in this collection and orginality of thought and treatment. Who would think to write a piece where a bridge is the central character and narrator? Or would portray Poseidon as an accountant? … it does seem to me that the translator Peter Wortsman has been able to create a sense of Kafka’s own voice in this book – a voice that is humane and at times humourous, that presents the surreal as if it was the normal.” - Zoe Brooks, Magical Realism

“Not only does the excellence of the translations in Peter Wortsman’s Konundrum: Selected Prose of Franz Kafka delight, but he wisely decided to mix-and-match a number of Kafka’s texts, fiction and non-fiction. Not only are the oft-printed stories (“In the Penal Colony,” “The Hunger Artist”) here, but diary entires, parables, and excepts from letters. The result is a distinctive vision of the writer — not the “patron saint of neurotics” beloved by the 20th century, but a black comic absurdist who seems particularly apt for the 21st century.” — Bill Marx, The Arts Fuse

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