Media Center: ‘Forgiving the Angel’ by Jay Cantor
WHO: Jay Cantor
WHAT: FORGIVING THE ANGEL:
Four Stories for Franz Kafka
WHEN: Published by Knopf January 17, 2014
WHERE: The author lives in Cambridge MA.
WHY: “Cantor is a virtuoso writer of conscience.
“A commanding tribute to Franz Kafka, one of the twentieth century’s most revolutionary voices. In four by-turns bayoneting and tender stories, Cantor imagines the profound impact Kafka had on those closest to him…Fluently empathic, mordantly ironic, and unflinching stories of love, dissent, torture, and sacrifice.” —Donna Seaman, in a starred review for BOOKLIST
“Shot through with black comedy, unsparing honesty and robust intellect.
“This story collection opens with Kafka on his deathbed in Austria, finishing his story ‘The Hunger Artist’ while starving himself from tuberculosis. Kafka told his friend Max Brod to burn all his writing upon his death, and the first two stories track the varied consequences of his refusal to do so—literary greatness for Kafka but despair over his betrayal and a creeping sense that he was made into a Kafkaesque fiction himself.
“The whole book thrives on the tension between the liberating honesty of Kafka’s writing and the existential suffering it depicted, most effectively in the novella-length ‘Lusk and Marianne.’ That story tracks the relationship between Kafka’s widow and German Communist Ludwig ‘Lusk’ Lask; after years in prison at the hands of the Gestapo and Soviet Russia, he finally gets to know his daughter, Marianne, whose own demeanor keeps reminding him of Kafka.
“The closing story, ‘Milena Jasenska and The World the Camps Made,’ takes place in a Nazi concentration camp; Milena was Kafka’s Czech translator and lover, and she takes another woman, Eva, under her wing before dying. Years after the war, Eva is still wrestling with Milena’s command over her psyche. Thinking about Milena only provokes Eva’s suffering, but as Cantor writes, ‘more pain was at least more‘—a Kafkaesque sentiment if there ever was one.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS
“This thought-provoking collection is a creative investigation of Kafka’s preternatural effect on the modern world.” —Henry Bankhead, LIBRARY JOURNAL
First line of the book: More than once, Franz Kafka told his close friend and literary executor, Max Brod, that when Kafka died, Brod was to burn all his unpublished manuscripts.
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