With the same expert balance of precision and nuance that marked his translation of Kafka's The Castle, the award-winning translator Mark Harman now restores the humor and particularity of language to Amerika.
Here is the story of 17-year-old Karl Rossman, who, following a scandal involving a housemaid, is banished by his parents to America. With unquenchable optimism and in the company of two comic-sinister companions, he throws himself into misadventure after misadventure, eventually landing in Oklahoma, where a career in the theater beckons.
Like much of Kafka's work, Amerika remained unfinished at the time of his death. Though we can never know how Kafka planned to end the novel, Mark Harman's superb translation allows us to appreciate as closely as possible, what Kafka did commit to the page.
©2008 Preface and Translation © 2008 Mark Harmon. Publisher's note © 2008 Shocken Books a Division of Random House, Inc. This translation is based on the German language text , Der Verschollebe Kritische Ausguabe, edited by Jost Schillemeit, published by S.Fisher Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, in 1983. (c) 1983 by Schoken Books, a division of Random House,Inc. Amerika was originally published in German in different form by Kurt Wolff Verlag A.G.,Munich ,in 1927,; (P)2009 Gildan Media Corp
"Semantically accurate to an admirable degree, faithful to Kafka's nuances, responsive to the tempo of his sentences and to the larger music of his paragraph construction. For the general reader or for the student, it will be the translation of preference for some time to come." (J. M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books)
i downloaded this quite some time ago and actually misplaced it somehow in the depths of my computer, and kind of forgot about it. this sort of thing CAN happen, believe it or not. a kafkaesque touch right there, to begin with. anyway, i listened to it now, almost a year later and ---
it is a totally great book.
the reader is terrific, even if he sounds like a person twice the age of kafka when that writer died, but he still sounds like a character straight out of kafka's book. i've heard quite a few audio readings of kafka stories and novels, and this must be the best of the lot.
depending on your take of the story, you might view it as some kind of insane marx brothers comedy, or a demented woody allen story, or a tale of horror and oppression. but no matter, the reader is simply wonderful.
top marks! this is the place to start with on kafka!
Kafka's writing style is meticulously descriptive and thorough, so it will strike some as boring. His genius lies in his ability to effortlessly turn the mundane into the surreal. This story follows a highly plausible trajectory, and is entirely believable for its period and context. The protagonist's thoughts and actions are entirely rational, yet the reader/listener will often realize the total absurdity of the positions he finds himself in. This is a coming-of-age tale that could easily have been the genesis of the concept, "Truth is stranger than fiction."
I was sorry that the story had such an abrupt ending, and could have listened to it continue indefinitely. Unfortunately, it seems that K never finished this worthy tome. I know that a close associate of his added an ending that was published... perhaps that would be more conclusive and satisfying even if not from the great mind of Kafka.
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