The novel Kafka’s Friend is the crowning glory of Gavran’s work to date.
Miro Gavran has written his best work in which he shows that an already established style can be raised to a higher level by taking away and not by adding. Kafka’s Friend is a dark tale about several friendships and several loves, and about mutual influences and deceits.
That silky pocket edition on 183 pages is a great story that fitted into a small book.
It is sometimes almost magical how easily Gavran’s asceticism, sometimes in the form of by-the-way remarks, but most often as a hint or a foreshadowing that activates the reader’s imagination, manages to conjure up the complex relationships between his characters, their states of mind, emotional vortexes, atmosphere, dramatic situations, discreet eroticism... Kafka’s Friend, it seems to me, is Gavran’s best novel to date.
One of Croatia’s most highly published writers, Miro Gavran, has tackled the biography of Franz Kafka and of his fateful friend, Max Brod. In this brief but effective and moving novel, he has depicted in a number of strokes Kafka’s completely maladjusted and very tragic personality, through the voice of Max Brod. Gavran has taken the known biographical facts from the writer’s life, but he has not signed an arrid biography, but rather a passionate novel in which there is also place for imaginative, and even unexpectedly eroticised scenes that bring to vivid life the end of a historical era.
Gavran speaks of unfulfilled love, of the meanders of submission and taking, of the difficulties of the journey of love and the conclusion of that journey, of loneliness and being lost, of Franz and Max as extemporal characters to whom the aspect of search is the only permanent feature. The two of them are the power generators of modern man from whom we draw life’s energy today - one anxiety-ridden, skeptical and dis- tant, Kafka-like; the other resolute, dedicated to his purpose, uncompromising, realistic, self-sacrificial, Brod-like.