Life After Kafka

Available Aug 06, 2024

256 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $17.99
ISBN: 9781954276291


ISBN: 9781954276307

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“A deeply empathetic story of survival, exile, and belonging. Magdaléna Platzová allows Felice Bauer to step out of Kafka’s shadow and, in the process, she recognizes that there is always so much more than one truth. This is a powerful, kaleidoscopic literary novel.”

Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin and Apeirogon

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Library Journal (starred review)

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“Enchanting. . . . As Felice Bauer receives her spotlight, Platzová deserves one, too.”

Publishers Weekly

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“Skillfully blends myth, reality, and rumor.”

Kirkus Reviews

“This elegantly narrated novel, full of fascinations, paints an impassioned and poignant portrait of Felice Bauer and other exiles connected to Franz Kafka and charts a compelling cartography of their now vanished world.”

Benjamin Balint, author of Kafka’s Last Trial and Bruno Schulz

“In Life After Kafka, Magdaléna Platzová movingly portrays Felice Bauer’s valiant efforts to forge a new life for herself and her family in the wake of historical catastrophe, even as she grapples with whether to reveal an intimate and painful chapter of her past in service to Kafka’s literary legacy. This meticulously researched and vividly imagined tale peels back the layers of cultural myth, offering a testament to a different kind of heroism.”

Ross Benjamin, translator of The Diaries of Franz Kafka

“With Life After Kafka, Magdaléna Platzová has evoked a cosmopolitan storm of post–World War II emotion, an obsessive level of research, and a unique documentary-style attention that adds not only to the mystery of Franz Kafka, but to the scholarship of Kafka as well. This original, sophisticated novel bewitches and inspires.”

Joanna Hershon, author of The Outside of August and St. Ivo

“Franz Kafka is a universe that resists any attempt at interpretation. Magdaléna Platzová’s novel offers a new key to Kafka’s world: we look at it through the tender and sorrowful gaze of the people whose fate had been marked by him personally. An utterly touching book!”

Agnieszka Holland, award-winning filmmaker and president of the European Film Academy

Life After Kafka is a thrilling detective story about one of literature’s most celebrated names, a haunting family saga about preserving our legacy during the darkest turns of history, and a thought-provoking exploration of the rippling impact of famous artists on the people in their lives. Platzová’s masterful merging of fact and fiction, in Alex Zucker’s artful and inspired translation, carries us across decades and continents to prove that our connections can be abandoned and yet unbroken, and that even the briefest encounters—in love and in art—can shape us forever.”

Jaroslav Kalfař, author of Spaceman of Bohemia and A Brief History of Living Forever

Life After Kafka is not just a fictional quest to find out who Kafka’s fiancée, Felice Bauer, was and what kind of life she led after their five-year correspondence ended. In it, ‘life after Kafka’ is the existential situation into which a community of Prague-based, Jewish intellectuals were thrown . . . capturing the living conditions and possibilities of the refugees after the loss of their homes and relationships, after the shattering of the world whose ruins each of them took with them in a few suitcases.”

Magnesia Litera jury citation

“A tale of love, drama and change. . . . Fans of Kafka will applaud [Platzová’s] retelling of history while others will simply enjoy a story well told.”

Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)

Franz Kafka scholars know Felice Bauer, his onetime fiancée, through his Letters to Felice, as little more than a woman with a raucous laugh and a taste for bourgeois comforts. Life After Kafka is her story. The novel begins in 1935 as Felice flees with her children from Hitler’s Berlin, following her family and members of Kafka’s entourage—including Grete Bloch, Max Brod, and Salman Schocken—as they try to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. Years later, a man claiming to be Kafka’s son approaches Felice’s son in Manhattan and the drama surrounding Kafka’s letters to Felice begins.

While taking the measure of literary fame’s long shadow, Life After Kafka depicts the magic and poison of memories, and what we cling to when all else is lost. Most of all, it illuminates the bravery required to move forward through the shattered remains of one world to rebuild life in a new one.

Life After Kafka is translated from the Czech by Alex Zucker.

Magnesia Litera Award Finalist

Excerpt from Life After Kafka

Available Aug 06, 2024

Read an excerpt from Magdaléna Platzová’s forthcoming novel Life After Kafka and find an illuminating interview between her and translator Alex Zucker in Air/Light.