Today is Franz Kafka's birthday. My first encounter with Kafka (as many people's probably was) was in being asked to read Metamorphosis, as part of Intermediate School English class. My first reading took it at face value, thinking about it as surreal fiction. Later readings saw it as metaphoric, with it being more a story of prejudice, applying a searing lens to the characters and how they spoke of the world at large.
Subsequent reading led me to his novels, namely The Trial, with its main character 'K' lost in the most labyrinthine processes of legally driven oppression.
Kafka had nothing published in his lifetime and in fact asked his friend Max Brod to destroy all his manuscripts on his death. Thankfully, Brod did not do so. I always liked Hannah Arendt's famous quote about Kafka's 'later' success.
"during his lifetime he could not make a decent living, Kafka will now keep generations of intellectuals both gainfully employed and well-fed."
Here is an interesting site devoted to Kafka with many resources and articles. Great to see people keeping at it, keeping the names of authors alive, as part of our living whakapapa as writers.