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Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (1915)

"One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin." With this famous sentence, Kafka's harrowing allegory of alienation begins. Gregor Samsa's transformation into a bug is one of the most famous stories in modern literature. If you read one thing by Franz Kafka, this should be it.

Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925)

This novel, published after Kafka's death, is one of his most Kafkaesque works. Protagonist Josef K. is an ordinary man who suddenly finds himself persecuted by shadowy authorities for an unnamed crime he didn't commit. This haunting story is a golden example of Kafka's masterful ability to communicate helplessness and menacing absurdity.

Franz Kafka, Amerika (1927)

This novel, an expansion of Kafka's short story "The Stoker," is about a European immigrant lost in America. Subtitled "The Man Who Disappeared," the novel was unfinished at the time of Kafka's early death. Its fragmentary quality is a reminder of Kafka's great promise and untimely end.

Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories (1995)

Kafka's primary medium was the short story. And it is through this medium that his literary identity really shines through. Kafka started writing short stories in college and continued right up until his death from tuberculosis in 1924. This collection traces his development as an artist.

Max Brod, Franz Kafka (1947)

Max Brod and Franz Kafka first became friends as students at Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague. It's thanks to Brod that the world knows who Franz Kafka is at all. Kafka named Brod his literary executor and asked him to burn all but a few of his papers after his death. Brod wisely refused, and ushered many of Kafka's most famous works into publication. This biography of Kafka is an intimate look at the writer by someone who knew him well.

Reiner Stach, Kafka: The Decisive Years (2005)

Being Kafka's biographer is no easy task. In the personal papers he left behind, he is as tormented and hard to pin down as one of his characters. Stach's exploration of the writer is the most thorough biography published since Kafka's death. This is the first of three volumes that Stach has planned for the biography.

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