Mr Owen – Head of English

The Trial – Franz Kafka

When and where did you read this book?

I read The Trial in my 20s after I’d left university. I went through a period of just reading anything and everything and this was my first Kafka novel.

How many times have you read it?

Twice! As I do sometimes when I’m between books, I re-read my favourites.

Who or what introduced you to this book?

I think I came across Kafka at university but just the name, not the story. I’m often drawn to darker themed books and this one is a great example: it’s quite disturbing and messes with your head a bit, which I like in literature. There are more famous books of his out there but this one came out of nowehere really, a lucky pick.

Can you give a brief outline of the book?

A man, Joesph K, wakes up one morning and finds himself under arrest. He doesn’t understand why and is understandably confused and frustrated. As he goes about trying to get answers from the authorities, friends and colleagues begin to distance themselves from him and slowly but surely he descends into a world of suspicion and paranoia.

What made you choose this as your favourite book?

It’s a reminder of how maddenning it can be for people who never find closure or peace as a result of a trauma. It’s also gives the reader a terrifying glimpse of the faceless bureacracy that is the state; a machine that is as impenetrable, soulless and dark as anything you can imagine in your worst nightmare.

Are there any other books by the author you would recommend?

Metamorphosis – another strange one to grapple with.

What other books did you consider before choosing this one?

Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential – an hilarious account of his time training to be a chef in Paris. Also, Catch-22.

What book(s) are you currently reading? 

Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell