Kafka for kids.

Roth searched the Internet for translations of Kafka in the public domain, read the famous Muir versions, skimmed over the German for kicks (he doesn’t speak the language), and finally chose which stories to include in his volume. “The Metamorphosis” was a shoe-in but would have to be cut into singsongy verse. “Josefine the Singer, or the Mouse People,” one of his old favorites, about a singer and her adoring audience, was next. Roth found this layered, melancholy story the most difficult to edit, and ended up returning to it numerous times before he was able to cut it down into shorter, kid-friendly portions. The final choice was the minuscule “Excursion into the Mountains,” a prose poem in which the speaker imagines travelling into the mountains with “a pack of nobodies.” Roth turned the sexless narrator into a young girl, but other than that it was the only piece that required no changes, as the original evokes a thrilling Sendak-ian air of abandon. “It’s like all my favorite books as a child,” Roth says, “where you’re ecstatic but you’re not sure whether you’re completely in control or completely out of control.”

Cool. [via The New Yorker]

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