Amerika is Franz Kafka’s first novel, started during his adolescence. For those of you who, like myself, where absolutely haunted and captivated by The Trail – which I think is one of the most important works of the 20th Century – and savoured the magical, uncanny allegory of The Castle, I am afraid that I am going to have to report that Amerika is a bit of a disappointment.
It’s definitely Kafka: there is the same surreal-ness and metaphysical anxiousness. I was intrigued by a young Kafka’s portrayal of America and New York: a land of immigrants and rich and poor. The first chapter was actually a stand-alone short story that got published. The rest of the book (it is unfinished and essentially trails off) Kafka slowly added too over the years. The first chapter is therefore the meat of the book; at least that is how it feels.
The back cover makes a references to “picturesque” adventures. I found them to be pointless. What I am trying to say is that I was getting a glimpse of Kafka’s writing “behind the scenes” and I did not care for it. It felt weird and pointless; I felt like I was reading it and it had published because of the name, Kafka.
This book makes me want to go back and read The Trail and remember the brilliance, and that is about it.