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Amerika: The Man Who Disappearedby Franz Kafka
Synopses & Reviews
Michael Hofmann's startlingly visceral and immediate translation revives Kafka's great comedy, and captures a new Kafka, free from Prague and loose in the new world, a Kafka shot through with light in this highly charged and enormously nuanced translation. Kafka began the first of his three novels in 1911, but like the others, Amerika remained unfinished, and perhaps, as Klaus Mann suggested, "necessarily endless." Karl Rossman, the youthful hero of the novel, "a poor boy of seventeen," has been banished by his parents to America, following a scandal. There, with unquenchable optimism, he throws himself into adventure after misadventure, and experiences multiply as he makes his way into the heart of the country, to The Great Nature Theater of Oklahoma. In creating this new translation, Hofmann, as he explains in his introduction, returned to the manuscript version of the book, restoring matters of substance and detail. Fragments which have never before been presented in English are now reinstated including the book's original "ending."
The San Francisco Chronicle said Hofmann's "sleek translation does a wonderful job" and the New York Times concurred: "Anything by Kafka is worth reading again, especially in the hands of such a gifted translator as Hofmann."
"Unpredictable and funny, as close to a Buster Keaton comedy as you can get." Jim Krusoe
"[Hofmann's] new translation is more successful in conveying...a sense of Kafka's unfinished work." Veronika Tuckerova
"Hofmann's slick, sleek translation does a wonderful job of keeping those competing forces in balance. Anything by Kafka is worth reading again, especially in the hands of such a gifted translator as Hofmann. A stirring, singular work, now restored to its original beauty." John Ashbery
"Michael Hofmann's magnificent new translation restores its rightful place as one of Kafka's most delightful and most memorable works." Charles Simic
"Of all the recent re-translations of Kafka into English, this volume is the most noteworthy. It achieves what translations are supposedly unable to do; it is at once 'loyal' and 'beautiful' — beautifully disorienting, beautifully confusing, beautifully cruel." John Zilcosky
Newly restored to the original text: Franz Kafka's Amerika: The Man Who Disappeared at last has the translator it deserves.
Hofmann's ability to overcome the obstacles presented by this particular work from Kafka marks this as the best translation.
Newly restored to the original text: for this new translation, Hofmann returned to Kafka’s manuscripts, restoring matters of substance and detail, and even the book’s original ending.
About the Author
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was born of Jewish parents in Prague. Several of his story collections were published in his lifetime and his novels, The Trial, The Castle, and Amerika, were published posthumously by his editor Max Brod.
For his translations, acclaimed poet Michael Hofmann has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Dublin International IMPAC Award, the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and The Schlegel-Tieck Prize (four times). He is the highly acclaimed translator of, among others, Kafka, Brecht, and Joseph Roth.
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