It’s not an admission that reflects all that well on me, but every now and then, as I read through this excellent and revelatory volume of posthumously published Kafka stories, I found myself thinking of Viz magazine – in particular, about the misadventures of Buster Gonad & His Unfeasibly Large Testicles. I will assume that the readers of Literary Review might need a brief résumé, widely and variously educated though they are. BG&HULT is a comic strip with a fairly self-evident premise, derived from its title: in every instalment, Mr Gonad undertakes a new task (working in a hotel, attending his sister’s wedding, taking his driving test), and in every instalment he is thwarted by his immense endowment, the vast pink sac that bounds before him like Bacchus’s panthers.
I kept on thinking that Mr Gonad (‘Oh, call me Buster, please!’) is in many ways an archetypal Kafka protagonist. He is different from the rest of humanity, visibly marked out. He is mild-mannered and put upon. But