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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,111 ratings  ·  356 reviews
"What do I have in common with the Jews? I don't even have anything in common with myself."

Nothing could better express the essence of Franz Kafka, a man described by his friends as living behind a "glass wall." Kafka wrote in the tradition of the great Yiddish storytellers, whose stock-in-trade was bizarre fantasy tainted with hilarity and self-abasement. What he added t
Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 17th 2007 by Fantagraphics (first published 1994)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,111 ratings  ·  356 reviews

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Greta G
What does it mean anyway?
Does it really only describe the soul-crushing bureaucracy and authority?
I'm convinced there's more to it. It's an adjective that's so hard to delineate.

You first have to read a book written by Kafka to really grasp the essence of this word.
The gloom, the doom, the abuse, the injustice, the powerlessness, the inescapability, the claustrophobic feeling, the labyrinthine feeling, the absurdity, the self-abasement... The word Kafkaesque conjures up all these f
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tara by: Greta G
“Every word first looks around in every direction before letting itself be written down by me.”

Kafka was an impressively informative graphic novel. It examined the life and works of writer Franz Kafka, confidant of the Absurd and Stranger in Everyland. The biographical material was periodically interspersed with summaries of his novels and short stories; this approach was masterfully, seamlessly executed, and it was quite an effective way to bring Kafka to life. In fact, for a mere primer, t
Dave Schaafsma
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gn-bio, gn-lit-based
9/26/17 I re-read this because of Greta, with whom I (slightly) disagreed about Kafka's letter to his father. I wanted to see again what Mairowitz thought of this relationship, and he confirms for me what Greta believes that his relationship with his father was entirely abusive, and was the key (hateful) relationship informing everything he wrote. He never got over it. What I didn't talk about below is how incredibly neurotic he was, and depressive, suicide-obsessed, and so driven to self-loathi ...more
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two favourites, Kafka and R. Crumb - why look further? Informative with the sarcastic humour fully intact. - “K himself was slowly becoming the adjective, which would be known by many more people than would ever read his books.” Imagine this - a country where a decade after his death none of his books were available to the public. But, take heart because in 1990’s Prague Kafka is no longer banned. “ can buy a Kafka tee shirt on every street corner in the tourist quarter, or his image on po ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Great introduction to Kafka with pictures by R. Crumb! Can't think of a better combination! ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kafka
I picked this up in a well known antiquarian institution in central Oxford earlier in the summer and I’m so glad.

Probably THE most visceral, politically incorrect dissection of Kafka in print.

If you read one book *about* Kafka in your lifetime, let it be t h i s

Kevin Shepherd
The art of Robert Crumb meets the life & times of Franz Kafka; the perfect marriage of form and function. If you're a fan of both, prepare yourself for a mental orgasm. ...more
Suad Shamma
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels, 2015, own
I have a confession to make...I've never read a Kafka book.

I know, it's shocking. So why am I even reading this graphic biography of the man? The main reason I picked this up is because of how beautiful it was. Robert Crumb and David Zane Mairowitz have done a fantastic job putting together a history of Kafka by giving us pages of beautifully illustrated material.

Of course I know who Franz Kafka is, and I've heard a lot about him. I know his books, I know what he's written, and I even know som
Mohammed Samih
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am always pleased and happy to know more about you my dear Kafka.
Although Kafka could be my favorite writer of all time, I never gave a book or a novel of his A full five stars. I still can't figure out why?
Why always there is something between him and I that makes me feel so close to him but yet so angry and disturbed at him, What kind of magic he has that makes me lose control of my emotions and flounder as A raging sea ? Reading a book for Kafka is like going on a ride to discover more thin
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Enter Kafka’s world through the art of R. Crumb. Oh, I’m sorry enter the world of R. Crumb through the master story telling of Franz Kafka. Both artists are equally revealed through this comic book.

Opening line of the Trial, ‘I am not permitted to tell you…. Proceedings against you have begun and you will be told everything in due course’, of course the speaker is lying. Nothing will be revealed in due course while the proceedings against you proceed on their predetermined certain path. A wicke
The mythos (and thousands of volumes of accompanying thought) surrounding Franz Kafka’s oeuvre can make him an intimidating and overwhelming author for the uninitiated. As a testament to the formative nature of his works (within the realm of modern literature), his surname has entered the contemporary lexicon – Kafkaesque - to denote byzantine bureaucracy. And yet -- despite the attention and consideration heaped upon The Trial, The Metamorphosis, etc. -- Kafka is ultimately an accessible writer ...more
Lars Guthrie
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Who would have thought the creator of Mr. Natural and Fritz the Cat would turn into such an excellent literary historian? Although I believe Crumb was doing his profiles of Blues artists from the beginning, no? Done with the collaboration of David Zane Mairowitz's readable and comprehensive text (the editors might have picked a better font to match up to Crumb's lettering and drawing), this work made me think about even more than connecting back to Kafka's oeuvre. Of course, that would be the pl ...more
Oct 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: r crumb zealotsfranz kafka zealots
Shelves: comix, 2012, biography, kafka

I read this in parallel with I Am a Memory Come Alive and found it somewhat disappointing. I like R. Crumb a lot, and he seemed like the perfect artist to depict Kafka and his works so I was initially excited about the book. The text in here is written by David Zane Mairowitz who has done similar literary collaborations with other comic artists. A lot of the text in the book is concerned with Kafka's Jewish identity, which I was less interested in than other aspects of his person. For me, the st
Booze Hound
Dec 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book for Christmas and started reading it immediately. It is pretty interesting weaving Jewish Czech history with a semi-biography of Kafka and his Jewish upbringing. I don't know how relevant Judaism is to Kafka considering he thought "What do I have in common with the Jews? I don't even have anything in common with myself." Ironically, the book points to the aforementioned quote by Kafka; accusing him of being a "self hating Jew". I don't know if Kafka was trying to distance hi ...more
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: amang, dyka, roos
Recommended to miaaa by: Ronny
This is one of few books that I found extremely difficult to be reviewed. I am dumbfounded, speechless even mesmerised as if I found a bucket of gold at the end of a rainbow.

A treasure indeed, something that worth enough as the dishes you eat the air you breath and the soil you step on. I embrace it as a lifeline rope being hurled by Crumb and Mairowitz in the middle of confusion how to understand the complicity of the disturbed artist.

I could not recalled him other than an artist. K maybe an
Manuel Antão
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Malignant Social Forms: "Kafka" by David Zane Mairowitz, Robert Crumb

That Kafka's writings are nightmarish is one of the earliest critical ideas about Kafka, and it is reflected in the nightmarish sense of the word Kafkaesque. If you look up at the keywords in the sidebar of this article "horror" is one of them! Kafka is credited with inventing the literary device of making his nightmare visions extremely matter of fact and realistic i
Aug 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sarah by: Jon Curtiss
I especially appreciate all the digs at literary critics who are quick to declare things "Kafkaesque" and at the general tendency of lit crits to narrowly classify works. This tendency is partly responsible for reducing Kafka to a commodity and a tourist destination rather than an author for people to read, interpret, and enjoy on their own. While Kafka is certainly not the only author to suffer this fate, his is probably one of the most extreme forms of authorial commercialization. Faulkner als ...more
Part biography, part book synopsises, this is an easy way to understand (?) a little bit more about Kafka, his life, works and legacy. The cartoon/illustrations add interest and provide vivid pictures to support and supplement the author's succinct but knowledgeable information. I never thought that Kafka actually wrote comedies; now I know. ...more
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
In his diaries, Kafka imagined his demise in many creative ways. For example, razor thin slices of him cut off with a butcher knife. Or being dragged with a noose around his neck.

I believe Max Brod may have had it right when he claimed Kafka's works were part of an elaborate search for an unreachable god. Especially with the inaccessibility of higher authority in The Trial and The Castle.

He was born and lived in Prague all but the last 8 months of his life. He called the city "a little mother"
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: insects, earthworms, and their brethren the insecure sons of this world
Recommended to Jeff by: blind luck stumbling thru the lieberry's comix
When i got married (in my mid-30s), instead of table numbers, we named our tables according to our personal and joint favorite authors. Kafka came from my side. He was a holdover from college and immediate post-college days when i bought several Schocken publications even though i couldn't really afford to put another $20 on my credit card. But i couldn't read Amerika or The Castle and i've never re-read The Trial or even seriously considered it. I did read a most of the collection of letters an ...more
Jason Furman
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, graphic
A light biography/interpretation of Kafka interspersed with graphic retellings of parts of his novels/stories by Robert Crumb--specifically "The Judgment," "The Trial," The Castle," "A Hunger Artist," and "The Metamorphosis." The biography/criticism part is perfectly fine and is accompanied by some illustrations as well. But the retold stories are excellent and Crumb's art is perfect for Kafka. I have ambivalent feelings about seeing them (and evidently Kafka himself would not allow any part of ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully illustrated. It makes me so giddily happy reading Kafka's biographical overview with a grim but vivid drawing style that helpfully encapsulated the meaning of Kafka's works (by the editor's, obviously). The contents depict Kafka's background, his life and also cover the lifetime influence of his works with Eastern European cultural contexts. Also the definition of 'Kafkaesque' becomes more clear to me. ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally I finished it! The book provides lots of good insights about Kafka's life and work. Referring to Kafka's writing, it depicts his characteristics, obsessions and idiosyncrasies. The book also delineates historical context in which he lived, died and ‌his posthumous fame. Its cartoons are also nice. ...more
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this because my book club is going to read The Trial. I found this interesting, though the pictures are somewhat creepy. It was very informative, but not very in-depth. A good overview of Kafka's life. ...more
Christiane Alsop
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent in every respect. Never read a graphic biography before. This has me hooked and wanting more, more, more.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This graphic novel doesn't focus on Kafka's life so much as it focuses on Kafka's outlook on life influenced by his Jewish culture and the sociopolitical environment he lived in. This is more of an analysis of Kafka's work and discusses how Kafka may have seen the world. As a Jewish man, he was alienated in Czechoslovakia in his career and anywhere outside of the Jewish Quarter he was confined to. He was deeply affected by antisemitism and internalized much of it. Throughout his life, he also in ...more
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Mairowitz writes and R. Crumb illustrates this fantastic biography of Kafka. Synopses of his major works are interspersed chronologically with his biography, really driving home how Kafka's feelings of alienation and inadequacy shaped his fiction. The ending is weak and seems oddly agenda-driven (in a way that has nothing to do with Kafka); but other than that the analysis is excellent. I'm so glad I own this.

Kafka did not want the insect to be seen. Concerning the cover of the first edition [of
Benjamin Zapata
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful and brilliant introduction to the life and work of Franz Kafka by David Mairowitz and with awesome illustrations by the legendary Robert Crumb. In less the 200 pages it awoke my appetite to read all the wonderful writing of Kafka,and to get into a more profuond and complete book about the life of this genius of world literature. The man who wrote the most famous first sentence in modern literature: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning after disturbing dreams,he found himself transforme ...more
I wish goodreads had the cover I have because it is BEAUTIFUL! Black and gray and tan with White and orange lettering and matte. So, so perfectly matte. mmmmmm

The book itself: well the illustrations were, of course, great. but I was disappointed with the content of the book which is a bummer because, as Sarah pointed out when I was on the sidewalk fondling this new purchase "[I] do love a graphic biography". It felt like it was over way too fast and the extended amounts of time spent on Kafka's
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, art, non-fiction
I can't think of a better artist than Crumb to illustrate a biography of Kafka. Son of a nasty bully of a father, Kafka is an odd, neurotic duck, the text mixes his real life with his stories to help illustrate this. He was an 'assimilated' Jew, he passed as a Czech and witnessed the strong anti-Semite movements of the period. He also was very conflicted when it came to women, he apparently wrote long letters of self-loathing to his girlfriends. There's a fair amount of text in this novel, Mairo ...more
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Mairowitz is a writer who studied English Literature and Philosophy at Hunter College, New York, and Drama at the University of California, Berkeley.

He is the author of the plays "The Law Circus" (1969 and "Flash Gordon and the Angels" (1971). Other works include "BAMN: Outlaw Manifestos and Ephemera 1965-70," "The Radical Soap Opera: Roots of Failure in the American Left," "Kafka for Beginners" a

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