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Kafka's Curse

3.22  ·  Rating Details ·  63 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
"Dangor writes lyrical...beautiful prose. Kafka's Curse is....full of cries that go on ringing in the head." The New York Times Book Review

From the award-winning South African poet Achmat Dangor, an extraordinary American debut and an imaginative reinterpretation of an old Arabic fairy tale unfolds in five magical narratives set in post-apartheid South Africa.

Kafka's Curse
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 21st 2000 by Vintage (first published 1997)
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Oct 18, 2012 K M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I just finished reading this book, and am having some rather ambivalent feelings about it. I really wanted to like this book- the cover looked so intriguing, and the description on the dust cover sounded wonderful. There was some beautiful writing in the book, some stand-out sentences like "He smelled the omens of life and death beneath the surface of things, the calcified lumps in the skin of the psyche." (p. 99) But, the ugliness of some of the topics (incest, etc.) was rather unsettling ...more
Erica Eller
Aug 17, 2015 Erica Eller rated it really liked it
I studied this at University and was fascinated by the overlay of literary allusions in the book such as Layla and Mecnun and Kafka's Metamorphosis, combining from diverse Arab by way of Indian and Jewish roots into a synthesis that results in a richly odd fruit, the product of South African culture. The motif of the tree in the book was also striking as a symbol of colonialism, since British people brought and planted their oak trees, which were an invasive species to make the landscape appear ...more
Aug 28, 2008 Eve added it
The story mainly tells about the Khans, a Muslim family living in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. It's also a retelling of an Arabic fairy tale, whose moral seems to be that people mustn't step away from their "station in life" and stay there to keep themselves safe.

Almost all the characters have chosen to refuse the positions they have been assigned to since birth. The female characters tend to react to the consequences with defiant anger, whereas the male characters are more contemp
May 23, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read
a modern reinterpretation of the Arabic legend of the gardener who loves a princess and, for his transgression, is transformed into a tree. #fiction #irish #british
Nov 04, 2015 Wittch rated it it was amazing
This book was magical. Despite its African setting it could be an American story where light skinned blacks would "pass" leaving their relatives behind.
Mar 09, 2015 Nancy added it
The writing in this book is achingly beautiful. I recommend it to anyone who loves good literature with a South African multicultural perspective.
Shadman Sakib
Jan 08, 2016 Shadman Sakib rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 28, 2013 Melissa rated it liked it
Beautiful writing, I learned a great deal about apartheid, but Oh, my, I must have missed some important messages because I do not read well for symbolism. Further comments at
De roman bevat niet een doorlopend verhaal, alleen situaties, die erg nuchter beschreven zijn, vanuit wisselend perspectief; als roman heb ik het als een slecht boek ervaren.
Jun 18, 2007 elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I have no idea what happened in this book. And I loved every bit of it. Brilliant.
Sean Hoskin
Sean Hoskin rated it it was amazing
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