Shelley Frisch

German-to-English translator

Latest translation

Reiner Stach, Kafka: The Early Years (Princeton University Press, 2016)

Early reviews:


August 17, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Kafka biography project

ImagePraise for the first two volumes:

“This is one of the great literary biographies, to be set up there with, or perhaps placed on an even higher shelf than, Richard Ellmann’s James Joyce, George Painter’s Marcel Proust, and Leon Edel’s Henry James. . . . [A]n eerily immediate portrait of one of literature’s most enduring and enigmatic masters.”–John Banville, New York Review of Books

“It is common to say of biography that it sends you back to the work. Stach’s book does this in spades, but, importantly for English readers, it also presents new aspects of the work in Shelley Frisch’s superb and lucid translations.”– Tim Martin, The Telegraph 

“Resplendent.”–Gary Giddins, Wall Street Journal

“One discovers a new, a different Dr. Franz Kafka of Prague in Reiner Stach’s monumental, three-volume biography, which concludes triumphantly with Kafka: The Early Years: Kafka–a techie, a lady-killer, friend, the inventor of 3-D movies, and the prospective author of a series of low-priced travel guides for Europe. Reiner Stach proves that biography can be a literary art form and gives definitive shape to our contemporary image of Kafka.”–Bavarian Book Prize jury statement

“[This] will surely be the definitive biography of one of the 20th century’s most mysterious artists. Stach’s declared aim is to find out what it felt like to be Kafka, and he succeeds.”–John Banville, Irish Times

“The very best of which the genre is capable. This book is itself a novel.”–Imre Kertész, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

“Superbly tempered. . . . Shelley Frisch, Stach’s heroic American translator, movingly reproduces his intended breadth and pace and tone.”–Cynthia Ozick, New Republic

“A definitive biography of a rare writer. . . . [M]asterful.”The Economist

“Stach aims to tell us all that can be known about [Kafka], avoiding the fancies and extrapolations of earlier biographers. The result is an enthralling synthesis, one that reads beautifully…. I can’t say enough about the liveliness and richness of Stach’s book…. Every page of this book feels excited, dynamic, utterly alive.”–Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World

“Stach’s is a splendid effort and will be hard to surpass.”–William H. Gass, Harper’s Magazine

“[Stach] has a deep understanding of the world that Kafka came from and this is matched by an intelligence and tact about the impulse behind the work itself.”–Colm Tóibín, Irish Independent

“Stach’s book succeeds brilliantly at clearing a path through the thick metaphysical fog that has hung about Kafka’s work almost since his death. . . . [I]lluminating. . . . Between them, [Frisch] and Stach have produced a superbly fresh imaginative guide to the strange, clear, metaphor-free world of Kafka’s prose.”–Tim Martin, Telegraph

“Magnificent.”–John Carey, Sunday Times

“Flawlessly translated. . . . [A] wonderfully intelligent and perceptive portrait of a uniquely powerful writer.”–P. D. Smith, Guardian

“Magisterial. . . . [Reiner Stach’s] portrait of the artist is intimately knowing. . . . [Kafka: The Early Years] completes an indispensable work about a key figure in 20th-century modernism.”Kirkus

“Kafka’s eerie short stories and novels have electrified readers for generations, but Stach’s portrait of the young Kafka contradicts the legend of their source in an alienated, detached enigma. Readers meet instead a likable, brilliant young insurance lawyer with, as Stach puts it, abundant perfectionism and self-doubt. . . . [A]ll Kafka devotees will find this biography’s insights deeply fulfilling.”Publishers Weekly

“What Mr. Stach uncovers in this volume–written last because of a long struggle over access to documents–are the formative experiences of a Kafka who becomes new and surprisingly relevant. . . . Even those immersed in the specialist work benefit from the illumination that Mr. Stach’s detailed digging brings. . . . In today’s age of backlash against globalisation, the arc that Mr. Stach draws between ‘The Early Years’ and Kafka’s later life takes on a new significance.”The Economist

Advance praise for Kafka: The Early Years:

Kafka: The Early Years completes a masterful trilogy. One feature puts it at light-years’ distance of superiority to anything previously written about Kafka’s early years: Stach had unique access to Max Brod’s notebooks, part of a celebrated cache of documents bearing on his friendship with Kafka. Far more fully than any other Kafka biographer, Stach gives us what Hegel calls ‘the concrete vitality of the full individual.’ “–Stanley Corngold, author of Lambent Traces: Franz Kafka

Advance praise for Kafka: The Early Years: “Kafka: The Early Years is a remarkable conclusion to a momentous biography. It covers what is in many ways the most important and interesting period of Kafka’s life, for these are the years during which he was shaped by the world around him and when his character emerged. This is an entertaining, informative account that has no equivalent among the many previous biographies of Kafka.”–Mark M. Anderson, author of Kafka’s Clothes

December 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LCB Translation Workshop

Upcoming German-to-English/English-to-German translation workshop at Ledig House in upstate New York, April 2017.

December 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment