Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka

James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, eds.

Mystery, horror, comedy, speculation, paradox, political allegory, nightmare: All these things are Kafka. These dystopic, comedic, and ironic tales by modern authors inspired by Franz Kafka smartly celebrate his continuing influence.


Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka

by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, eds.

ISBN: 9781616960490

Published: 2011

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback

The tourist shops of Prague sell dozens of items commemorating Franz Kafka. You can drink a latte in the Café Kafka, add sugar to it from a packet with Kafka’s face on it, and then light your cigarette from a box of Kafka matches.

Franz Kafka died in obscurity in 1924, publishing only a handful of bizarre stories in little-known literary magazines. Yet today he persists in our collective imaginations. Even those who have never read any of Kafka’s fiction describe their tribulations with the Department of Motor Vehicles as being Kafkaesque.

 Kafkaesque explores the fiction of generations of authors inspired by Kafka’s work. These dystopic, comedic, and ironic tales include T. C. Boyle’s roadside garage that is a never-ending trial, Philip Roth’s alternate history in which Kafka immigrates to America to date his aunt, Jorge Luis Borges’s labyrinthine public lottery that redefines reality, Carol Emshwiller’s testimony by the first female to earn the right to call herself a “man,” and Paul Di Filippo’s unfamiliar Kafka—journalist by day, costumed crime-fighter by night.

Also included is Kafka’s classic story “The Hunger Artist,” appearing both in a brand-new translation and in an illustrated version by legendary cartoonist R. Crumb (Fritz the Cat). Additionally, each author discusses Kafka’s writing, its relevance, its personal influence, and Kafka’s enduring legacy.

“All of the works collected in Kafkaesque prove both edifying and entertaining…. A fine, intelligent, and exquisitely bizarre collection of fiction.”
New York Journal of Books

“Eclectic, mind-blowing collection”
Publishers Weekly

“A delight to read…. [T]he extremely varied and entertaining stories [Kafkaesque] contains help clarify Kafka’s literary legacy.”

“…a surpassingly excellent anthology in its own right. An ideal introduction, as the stories capture the strangeness, wonder, despair, and humour which Kafka’s work exemplifies.”
SF Site

“Grade: A.”
SciFi Magazine

“So very good…one of my favourite anthologies.”

“A smart and provocative anthology…superb.”

“It’s an extremely rich and potent collection….”
Functional Nerds

James Patrick Kelly is the Hugo, Nebula, and Italia award–winning author of Burn, Think Like a Dinosaur, and Wildlife. He is a member of the faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. He has co-edited a series of anthologies with John Kessel, described by the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as “each surveying with balance and care a potentially disputed territory within the field.” Kelly is the technology columnist for Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine and the publisher of the e-book ’zine Strangeways.

John Kessel is a Nebula, Sturgeon, and Locus award winner and the author of Corrupting Dr. Nice, Good News From Outer Space, and The Pure Product. He teaches courses in science-fiction, fantasy, and fiction writing at North Carolina State University. His criticism has appeared in Foundation, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the New York Review of Science Fiction, and Science Fiction Age.

 Praise for Feeling Very Strange

“Oh, these stories!… Don’t stop until all have been read.”
Booklist, starred review

“Is slipstream just science fiction and fantasy that doesn’t know that it’s science fiction or fantasy? Or is it more than that? Decide for yourself by slipping into short stories that are superb, whatever you choose to call them, from Lethem, VanderMeer, Chabon, Waldrop and others.”

“At last we have our definitive collection…. And once again, we can rejoice that revolution after revolution will be printed, not televised.”
The Agony Column

“Worth buying? Well if you want to be the hippest cat on the block, then yes.”
SF Crowsnest

“Intriguing stories…plenty of good reading.”
Publishers Weekly

“Leave it to Tachyon, one of the most exhilarating and intellectually probing small presses, to put out a book like this. We hope it makes its way out of what the editors call the ‘ghetto of the fantastic’ and into the mainstream. This book is a joy and could easily become a staple of college syllabi in the not-so-distant future.”
Time Out Chicago

“This is an anthology that both entertains and enlightens. SF types will regard Feeling Very Strange as having a significance comparable to that of Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions volumes and Bruce Sterling’s Mirrorshades compendium; aficionados of contemporary literary fiction will have their eyes opened, many times, and readers of every other stamp, if they like both good writing and strong narrative values, will think themselves in Heaven.”
—Michael Bishop

“I expect to wake up as a giant cockroach tomorrow morning. Can anything really be better than that?”
Reading the Leaves

“You will actually have a nonlinear, information-building, increasingly exhilarating experience.”
Science Fiction Studies

Praise for Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology

“Sixteen inspiring, mind-altering stories…and every story in the
bunch is a knockout.”

Praise for The Secret History of Science Fiction

“These stories are good enough to make The New Yorker’s Eustace Tilley pop his cartoon monocle.”

“A compelling collection…very unique and thought provoking.”
Sacramento Book Review

“All I really want to do, at the moment, is embrace the unsuspecting editors in a massive, spine-crunching bear hug”
Los Angeles Times

“If you’re interested in reading a bunch of stories written by some of the best contemporary writers out there, you’ll like this anthology. If you also want to read some of the best science-fiction stories since the ’70s, you’ll love this anthology.”

Visit the James Patrick Kellyand John Kessel websites.

“A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka (new translation by John Kessel)
“The Drowned Giant” by J. G. Ballard
“The Cockroach Hat” by Terry Bisson
“Hymenoptera” by Michael Blumlein
“The Lottery in Babylon” by Jorge Luis Borges
“The Big Garage” by T. C. Boyle
“The Jackdaw’s Last Case” by Paul Di Filippo
“Report to the Men’s Club” by Carol Emshwiller
“Bright Morning” by Jeffrey Ford
“The Rapid Advance of Sorrow” by Theodora Goss
“Stable Strategies for Middle Management” by Eileen Gunn
“The Handler” by Damon Knight
“Receding Horizon” by Jonathan Lethem and Carter Scholz
“A Hunger Artist” by David Mairowitz and Robert Crumb
“‘I Always Wanted You to Admire My Fasting’; or, Looking at Kafka” by Philip Roth
“The 57th Franz Kafka” by Rudy Rucker
“The Amount to Carry” by Carter Scholz
“Kafka in Brontëland” by Tamar Yellin

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