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Reading Groups

“Not for Us”: Kafka’s Stories with Mike Levine (In Person or Online)

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Every Other Week Tuesdays, 6:00 pm EST - 7:30 pm EST January 11 to February 22, 2022

Online via Zoom & at
The Center for Fiction*

The ‘With Books’ option includes The Metamorphosis: And Other Stories and Letter to the Father at a 10% discount. The Metamorphosis, translated by Bernofsky, is an optional version of the story and is available separately.


Meeting Dates:
1/11, 1/25, 2/8, 2/22

Is there a writer whose work has so insistently both invited and resisted interpretation as Franz Kafka? His life is equally confounding; scholars have scrutinized his diaries and letters for clues that would help us make sense of the world delineated in his fiction – a hauntingly accurate portrait of the one we inhabit and, at the same time, so alien as to seem at times comically inhospitable to human life. When asked by his friend Max Brod if there was hope for the world, he replied, “Much hope, for God – no end of hope – only not for us.” Everything he wrote reveals a man fundamentally homeless. Neither his family, his country, his religion, nor his lovers could temper his existential unease. His writing forces us to consider whether anything we think of as making us intelligible to ourselves or as binding us to others holds up under close examination.

We’ll read a selection of his greatest stories, including “The Metamorphosis,” “Before the Law,” and “The Judgment,” which have become cultural shorthand for unfathomable predicaments. Adding another dimension to themes he relentlessly pursued, we’ll also read “Letter to the Father,” a letter Kafka wrote about their tortured relationship that never made its way to its intended audience.

  • Session I: “Before the Law,” “The Judgment”
  • Session II: “The Metamorphosis,” “A Country Doctor”
  • Session III: “In the Penal Colony,” “A Report to an Academy,” “A Hunger Artist”
  • Session IV: “Letter to the Father”

*To attend this reading group in person, please email your proof of vaccination to health@centerforfiction.org prior to visiting the Center. Mask wearing will be required throughout the building. Accepted vaccination proofs include:

  • an image of your CDC vaccination card
  • a screenshot or scanned printout of your Excelsior pass
  • a record of vaccination from the healthcare provider who gave you your vaccine

In compliance with developing guidelines issued by federal, state, and our local government, we ask that all visitors to The Center for Fiction’s member spaces provide proof of vaccination for COVID-19. If you remain unvaccinated because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, please also contact us at health@centerforfiction.org for assistance or to request a reasonable accommodation. 

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Led by

  • mike levine

    Mike Levine

    Mike Levine

    Mike Levine is an independent editor. He was previously an acquisitions editor at Northwestern University Press. Among the authors he published were Jen Beagin (Whiting Award winner), A. E. Stallings (National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, finalist), and Stephen Karam (Pulitzer Prize in Drama, finalist). He has also been a senior editor at the Great Books Foundation. Since 2000, he has taught literature and film seminars in several continuing education programs. He has a BA from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in English from Rice University.

To attend this reading group in person, please email your proof of vaccination to health@centerforfiction.org prior to visiting the Center. Mask wearing will be required throughout the building. Accepted vaccination proofs include:

• an image of your CDC vaccination card
• a screenshot or scanned printout of your Excelsior pass
• a record of vaccination from the healthcare provider who gave you your vaccine

In compliance with developing guidelines issued by federal, state, and our local government, we ask that all visitors to The Center for Fiction’s member spaces provide proof of vaccination for COVID-19. If you remain unvaccinated because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, please also contact us at health@centerforfiction.org for assistance or to request a reasonable accommodation.