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Kafka's Hat
Print Edition
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12.95 CDN

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12.95 US

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Tuesday December 11, 2012 in Books

Kafka's Hat

By Patrice Martin
Translated by Chantal Bilodeau

In Patrice Martin’s ticklish tip of the hat to the writing of Franz Kafka, we follow the misadventures of a bureaucrat – aptly named “P.” (pun intended) – as he embarks on the illustrious task of collecting the titular headgear. “P.” expects that the accomplishment of this seemingly simple task will grant him both a professional and a personal promotion. But Martin’s eager protagonist has overlooked the systematic difficulty in modern bureaucracies – as well as in some of twentieth-century’s best fiction – of getting things done. And so Kafka’s hat is increasingly unreachable: express elevators get stuck between floors, rooms full of suitcases must be searched, unsympathetic bureaucrats must be confronted, and then there’s the rather unanticipated discovery of a fresh cadaver in the library … Naturally, “P.” knows that every hero has his coming-of-age trial to go through; trouble is, he’s no modern Ulysses.

Never departing in tone and timbre from a somewhat amicable and farcical, obstinately absurd storytelling style, Kafka’s Hat assembles a pleasant labyrinth of intertextual references, which make room for the diverse imaginary worlds of Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, and Paul Auster. Living in a different city, wearing new clothes, but still immersed in the part-tragic and part-comical ambience of Franz Kafka’s best existentialist literature, Patrice Martin’s “P.” is the compelling alter ego of a not-so-distant “Joseph K.” – still contemporary, still relevant.

Invoking some of modern literature’s most meaningful authors, Martin’s prose playfully reminds us that we do not create new work without reintroducing past fictions inside our present desires.

ISBN 13: 9780889227439 | ISBN 10: 0889227438
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 144 pages
12.95 CAN / 12.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Fiction | Bisac: FIC019000
Paperback Edition


“Darkly humorous, inventive, and insightful … this novel is endlessly interesting to discuss, map out, and timeline with a few good friends. Just as the way many of the three authors’ stories looped and fell back on themselves, Kafka’s Hat successfully does the same. Anything is possible in fiction, Martin seems to be telling us. Literature incorporates the mundane with the infinite, the laughable with the grim, and for his first novel, Patrice Martin achieves this …”

“Patrice Martin’s first novel revels in the humour, witty eloquence, and intelligence of the author.”
Le Devoir

“skillful … a playful, meta-literary work that extends and illuminates his precursors’ ideas about the relationship between readers, writers and texts. … At first, it seems as though Martin is simply mimicking Kafka’s style, but as he enlists elements from Auster, Borges, and Calvino, the book becomes an entertaining web of intertextual connections. ”
– Literary Review of Canada


Nominated for the 2013 Typographic Translation Award (Typographic Era blog)

About the Contributors

Patrice Martin

Patrice Martin is a writer and politician who claims to have been bumping into the spirit of Kafka for most of his adult life. His years spent in government, first as a procedural clerk in Canada’s House of Commons, then as a municipal councillor, no doubt helped shape his first novel, the deliciously absurd Kafka’s Hat.

Chantal Bilodeau

Chantal Bilodeau is a New York–based playwright and translator originally from Montreal. Her play Sila won first prize in the 2012 Earth Matters on Stage Ecodrama Festival and the 2011 Uprising National Playwriting Competition. She is the recipient of a Jerome Travel and Study Grant and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Kafka's Hat cover
Kafka's Hat

Patrice Martin
Translated by Chantal Bilodeau

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