This week, someone absconded (yes, it happens, especially in that corner of the store) with almost our entire Kafka section, but they left this one behind, which is somehow fitting. It’s the forgotten one of Kafka’s novels, and for that reason and many others I often say it’s my favorite of his books, or of any books. My flip description is that it’s Kafka’s “happy novel,” but if you know Kafka, you know it could never be that simple. Despite every dark turn it takes, it’s still suffused with an immigrant’s wide-eyed optimism, all the way to the bizarre, delightful ending, when Karl signs up for the infinite Theater of Oklahama (that’s how Kafka spelled it). It’s up to you, dear reader, whether you find it his most disturbing tale of all.
—Tom Nissley, Phinney Books, Seattle, WA
This Face Out comes from the March 20 Phinney Books newsletter. Amerika was the store’s Old Book of the Week.