America and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading America on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Amerika: The Man Who Disappeared [Hardcover]

Franz Kafka , Michael Hofmann
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.

Book Description

Oct 2002

Karl Rossman has been banished by his parents to America, following a family scandal. There, with unquenchable optimism, he throws himself into the strange experiences that lie before him as he slowly makes his way into the interior of the great continent.

Although Kafka's first novel (begun in 1911 and never finished), can be read as a menacing allegory of modern life, it is also infused with a quite un-Kafkaesque blitheness and sunniness, brought to life in this lyrical translation that returns to the original manuscript of the book.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation (Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081121513X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811215138
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,528,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


"No other voice has borne truer witness to the dark of our times" (George Steiner)

"He is the greatest German writer of our time. Such poets as Rilke or such novelists as Thomas Mann are dwarfs or plaster saints in comparison to him" (Vladimir Nabokov) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Perhaps the most interesting writer of his generation... A strange and disconcerting genius' Edwin Muir --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
As the seventeen-year-old Karl Rossmann, who had been sent to America by his unfortunate parents because a maid had seduced him and had a child by him, sailed slowly into New York harbour, he suddenly saw the Statue of Liberty, which had already been in view for some time, as though in an intenser sunlight. Read the first page
Explore More
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AmeriKa 22 Jun 2008
Undeserved lack of attention has been paid to this novel. It contains some great 'Kafka' scenes, and is an interesting read. The title ought to be Amerika, afterall Kafka had never been there and the story is essentially of a fictional land. Really worth reading!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2.0 out of 5 stars The wrong translation 10 Sep 2014
By Sergiu
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beware, this is unfortunately not the Hofmann translation, contrary to what is claimed on Amazon (at least at the time of my purchase). Comparing any paragraph of this translation, probably by Muir, with Hofmann's version is striking: the latter is much, much better, on a completely different, higher level of language; you should go for that one to appreciate the originality, richness and hilarity of Kafka.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best 15 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not his best but as so little of his work survived anyone with an interest in Kafka should read it.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars An Amerikan Dream 24 Sep 2013
By Woolco
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'Amerika' is Kafka's first novel, of the three unfinished ones salvaged by Max Brod. First started, is probably more accurate to say. Kafka retained it for many years never feeling entirely satisfied with it, yet never despairing of it either.

The writing, for me, is in no way inferior to Kafka's other works, though it's true to say that some of Kafka's trademark themes and methods are not fully developed: sinister overpowering officialdom - the bureaucratic, totalitarian nightmare; convoluted, protracted discourses and dialogues, reasoning against, and propelling forward, the illogical and the absurd.

Instead, 'Amerika', like the fabled country itself, offers a more positive outlook - a self-determinism quite in contrast to Kafka's other novels. At least to begin with. Inevitably, things don't proceed in the style of the American Dream exactly. But the ethic of individualism somehow survives. Whether that's ironical or not rather depends on your disposition. The novel halts in the midst of a bizarre domestic situation worthy of Pinter or Beckett theatre. Not without its humour and not entirely desperate. It's a familiar scene for Kafka readers: the ultimate agenda thwarted by the trappings and minutia of quotidian life: the search for a bottle of perfume, the getting of a breakfast.

The two fragments following the novel's conclusion, in my opinion, are not of the same quality as the novel itself, though they do, I suppose, offer a glimpse of what Kafka contemplated for later episodes.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Actually quite disturbing 5 Aug 2013
Initially, it seems as though this book is not as accomplished as the author's more famous novels, but I think on reflection, I would rather say this book is just different to 'The Castle' and 'The Trial'. It is about a 15 year old called Karl Rossman who gets packed off to America on his own after a sexual misdemeanour with a servant in his native Prague.

Alienation is a key theme in this. Despite some outrageous and even unnatural fortune, Karl can never fit in anywhere or find his milieu. Just as the reader feels he is about to achieve something, there is a sudden drop in Karl's fortunes. Constant unfulfilled hope makes the book rather antagonising.

Although on first acquaintance not as Kafkaesque as the other two novels, the sheer suddenness and arbitrariness with which Karl's fortunes rise and fall is unsettling - as if when reading it, you are locked in a dream where you cannot reach fulfilment. The fact that the novel is unfinished even makes it more disturbing - again as if in a dream where you never get to know the end, but wake up instead. Karl, as a 15 year old, is considerably more innocent than K. and Joseph K. Here there is not even the sense that the main character might have done something in the past that he can't remember, for which he is now paying the price. Karl, is in fact a far more attractive character (at least in my opinion) than K. and Joseph K, and the things that happen to him are harder for the reader to bear.

The book is ineffective as a portrait of American society, and most of the characters apart from Karl don't quite feel as though they are real. It also has no ending and the final chapter seems to bear little relation to what immediately precedes it.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category