By Franz Kafka
“The term "Kafkaesque" is used to describe concepts and situations reminiscent of the author’s work, particularly The Trial and The Metamorphosis. Examples include instances in which bureaucracies overpower people, often in a surreal, nightmarish milieu which evokes feelings of senselessness, disorientation, and helplessness. Characters in a Kafkaesque setting often lack a clear course of action to escape a labyrinthine situation.” - Wikipedia
Considering the fact that this novel inspired the term “Kafkaesque” it’s an understatement to say it’s hard to follow. A man, K., is arrested at the beginning of the book. Throughout all of the twists and turns that follow, he never learns why he is arrested or what any of the charges against him are. He fights through one bureaucratic line of red tape after another, but with no success.
It’s a strange book, full of weird encounters, unexplained conversations, and surreal situations. But at the same time, can’t we all relate to the mind-numbing experience of trying to understand something the government has decided? We’ve all felt helpless while trying to deal with an insurance company’s absurd rules or a simple misunderstanding turning into a huge problem because a corporate entity has gotten involved.
BOTTOM LINE: I didn't love it, but I appreciate that Kafka perfectly highlighted the absurdity of bureaucracy. It was weird, but I’m glad I have a better understanding of what it mean for something to be “Kafkaesque”.