Children’s books, with their large glossy pages and sparse text, often follow puppies on magical adventures, and always end happily. My First Kafka: Runaways, Rodents & Giant Bugs is no such book. The pages may be visually beautiful thanks to illustrator Rohan Daniel Eason, and the text may be spirited thanks to Jewniverse‘s own founding editor, Matthue Roth, but this funkily patterned cockroach and rodent party will wend its way into your subconscious and creep around in there, long after lights-out.
My First Kafka revisits 3 Kafka stories, including The Metamorphosis. While they’re familiar, they create and inhabit a new world, thanks to Kafka’s inimitable sensibility, Roth’s cheeky style, and Eason’s quirky and endearing etchings. (The metamorphosed cockroach has more flair than your average hipster.)
Kafka enthusiasts will find a familiar friend in this spunky volume. Roth successfully channels Kafka’s sense of
“filial shame, ineradicable guilt, and parental condemnation” that some tie to his “interest in his Jewish heritage.” While My First Kafka does not revolve around explicit Jewish themes, it does evoke a world of threat and alienation—the very world in which Kafka lived and wrote in pre-WWII Prague.