Title: The Lost Pages
Author: Marija Peričić
Genre: Literary fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: May 2017
Synopsis: WINNER of the 2017 The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award
A stunning novel of friendship, fraud and betrayal within a compelling literary rivalry.
‘To frame The Lost Pages as being about Brod is clever and interesting. The Kafka we meet here is almost the opposite of the one we have come to expect.’ Stephen Romei, Literary Editor, The Australian
It is 1908, and Max Brod is the rising star of Prague’s literary world. Everything he desires-fame, respect, love – is finally within his reach. But when a rival appears on the scene, Max discovers how quickly he can lose everything he has worked so hard to attain. He knows that the newcomer, Franz Kafka, has the power to eclipse him for good, and he must decide to what lengths he will go to hold onto his success. But there is more to Franz than meets the eye, and Max, too, has secrets that are darker than even he knows, secrets that may in the end destroy both of them.
The Lost Pages is a richly reimagined story of Max Brod’s life filtered through his relationship with Franz Kafka. In this inspired novel of friendship, fraud, madness and betrayal, Marija Peričić writes vividly and compellingly of an extraordinary literary rivalry.
The Lost Pages explores the fractured relationship between Franz Kafka, author of novels such as The Metamorphosis and The Trial, and his literary executor, Max Brod. In early twentieth century Prague, Brod is charged with taking care of Kafka, and securing his literary talent and manuscripts within the literary world of Prague and Germany, and it also explores the fractured, and unusual friendship of the two figures, and Brod’s sense of self in relation to Kafka.
Throughout the novel, told from Brod’s point of view, there are footnotes that indicate where something has come from, or been hinted to in the lost pages that inspired the novel. It explores a literary world now lost to us in the twenty-first century, but one that is still fascinating.
Marija Peričić’s inspiration for the novel came from an article in the New York Times outlining a court squabble between two elderly women over Kafka’s papers and manuscripts they had inherited. As Kafka’s executor, Brod published the manuscripts following Kafka’s death in 1924, and against his wishes. In The Lost Pages, Max struggles with the conflict of his role as literary executor, his sense of self and who Kafka is, and the threat that Kafka as the new rising literary star in Prague.
Kafka’s success and life is seen through the lens of Brod’s jealousy and feelings of isolation form people he cares about, and the impact this has in fracturing his mind, where Peričić explores where Kafka and Brod seem to meld together, interrogating Brod’s role in completing and publishing Kafka’s best known works. It is an interesting novel, one that uses history, literary circles and personalities to shed new light on the world of Kafka and his writing, showing a different side to the Kafka readers may know from his published works.
The Lost Pages is the 2017 winner of the The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award, which is one of Australia’s richest and the most prestigious award for an unpublished manuscript by a writer under the age of thirty-five. Offering publication by Allen & Unwin, with an advance against royalties plus prize money totalling $20,000, The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award has launched the careers of some of Australia’s most successful writers, including Tim Winton, Kate Grenville, Gillian Mears, Brian Castro, Mandy Sayer and Andrew McGahan.
The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award-winning authors have gone on to win or be shortlisted for other major awards, such as the Miles Franklin Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Booker Prize.