After all, what is it that makes Kafka, Kafka? The economy; the dark humor; the teasing inscrutability; the brilliance of the thought-experiments; the hieratic and esoteric flavor of the constructions; the disorienting cadence of the prose; the impeccable, internal, magical logic that drives the mechanical toy theaters of his work; the much discussed Jewishness (as if this was easy to parse); the “concrete abstractions” (in the words of Zadie Smith)…. I suppose what some find most relevant and compelling in Kafka is his ability to inspire in them that paradoxical feeling that great literature always aspires to arouse in readers—the feeling of the universality of their own alienation. Kafka is the ne plus ultra of alienation– alienation being arguably the defining emotional condition of the 20th century.
There is more at Peter’s blog JACKET MECHANICAL.