Synopses & Reviews
"Following Nietzsche's Kisses (2006), Olsen treats another great modernist to postmodernist investigation, this time retelling Kafka's The Metamorphosis from the supporting cast's points-of-view. Olsen hews closely to the original, and his additions, excursions and elaborations are simultaneously stimulating and entertaining: intermittent sections relate the contemporary story of Margaret, an insecure young woman whose grandparents have gone missing and who is reading Kafka's masterpiece for the first time, and that of the Samsas' downstairs neighbor, a writer who is inspired by the strange noises upstairs to write a novella-length allegory in which 'a man will awake with meat cleavers for hands. The moral will be that the meaning of life is that it stops.' Characters who appear only briefly in Kafka's work here provide texture and a broader canvas, but the Samsa family, though given magnificent voices, aren't particularly developed. Intricately woven and richly imagined, Olsen's novel is a cerebral treat unto itself and a fine companion to Kafka's original." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
takes Franz Kafka's profoundly haunting and sad comic novella, The Metamorphosis,
and reanimates it through the vantage points of those who surrounded Gregor Samsa during his plight. All the familiar characters are here, including the hysterical mother, stern father, faithless sister, and the pragmatic household cook. But we are also introduced to, among others, the would-be author downstairs who daydreams of the narrative he may someday compose and a young woman in contemporary London reading Kafka's slim book for the first time.
Or do they all comprise a few of the disturbing dreams from which Gregor is about to snap awake one morning to find himself transformed into a monstrous vermin? In the tradition of Michael Cunningham's The Hours and John Gardner's Grendel, Olsen's novel not only represents a collaboration with a ghost, but, too, a celebration, augmentation, complication, and devoted unwriting of a momentously influential text.