For writer Marija Pericic, a closer look at one of literature’s giants turned into the inspiration for an award winning novel.
For the Australian/Vogel literary award winner, who will be speaking at the Ballarat Writers Festival, Franz Kafka was an unlikely choice for her debut novel The Lost Pages.
“It’s not that I wasn’t impressed by Kafka’s work: he’s obviously an amazing writer and very much before his time, it was more that I could never really get into his work,” she said.
It’s not that I wasn’t impressed by Kafka’s work: he’s obviously an amazing writer and very much before his time, it was more that I could never really get into his workMarija Pericic
“I had attempted to write plans for a few novels, but they always fizzled out. I just couldn’t get them to hang together. This was my first real attempt at writing that reached a complete draft, so I got very very lucky.
“I find it more appealing to work with the structure that comes from reinvention, I think the idea of the totally blank canvas makes me a little nervous to be honest.”
Her winning debut novel came about because of a 2012 reading of the New York Times Magazine article, “Kafka’s Last Trial”, which sparked her interest in the relationship between the author and his biographer Max Brod. “It’s an investigative piece about the convoluted court proceedings around a collection of unseen manuscripts and other papers of Kafka’s. The story told in the article is so absurd it could be straight out of one of Kafka’s novels,” she said.
Her idea of both men included the vague impression of Kafka as a tubercular depressive and the knowledge that Brod, against Kafka’s wishes, published, edited and finished off the majority of Kafka’s manuscripts after his death. However, Ms Pericic said her research surprised her with how different the public perception of both men is to the reality. “Brod himself was also a well-known novelist in his own right, and I started to wonder how he felt about Kafka, and his obvious talent, and that’s what got me interested in the potential for a literary rivalry between the two men,” she said. After finding out some much background information through the writing process, she said revisiting Kafka’s work now is a completely different experience. For more information, visit ballaratwritersfestival.com.