Which one of us is Kafka and which Brod?" W. asks his friend Lars while Spurious takes its course. He decides they are both the latter, buffoonish adjuncts to a writer whose work is so authentic and truthful that he would rather his friend burn the lot than expose it to universal misunderstanding. But he didn't burn anything, and the fact that Spurious exists for us to savour is due to both Lars' and W.'s quality of Brodness. W. is right: they too have listened to Kafka and ignored him. Moreover, Kafka did not write blurbs for his friend's regrettable novels, so the unreliable reviewer who wrote on the back of Spurious that it is not only a comedy but "a profound philosophical rhapsody playing out the culmination of the religious narratives of East and West" is not Kafka either. So where can he be found?
If Kafka were alive today he would not care to write novels, particularly if the pinnacle of literary achievement is the prettification afforded by a garland or, worse, popularity. Writing to a friend, he said that we should read only books that wound and stab us or that make us feel banished into forests far from everyone. He went on to write a few. Today these would be the last to win a prize. This is where Kafka can be found: with matches at the ready. It is the great virtue of Spurious that it seeks the flames Kafka desires while, at the same time, due to its Brodness, it revels in soggy kindling. Such ambition and hopelessness combined is liberating.
SteveofThisSpace, Not the Booker review