1. Young Franz didn’t have many friends and assuaged his loneliness by reading the works of J.W. von Goethe, Blaise Pascal, Gustav Flaubert, and Soren Kierkegaard.
2. Before he became known as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature, Kafka lived in obscurity, working as an insurance clerk in his native Prague.
3. The insurance job didn’t generate enough money to allow Kafka to write full-time, so he and his friend Max Brod decided to supplement their income by writing a guidebook for tourists in Europe.
4. The adjective of his last name, Kafkaesque, implies a nightmarish world. And though he created frightening images in his books, he was reportedly terrified by mice.
5. The apartment of Kafka’s most famous fictional character, Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis, had the same layout as the author’s real flat in Prague.
6. Kafka’s works were forbidden in his native Prague during communism because of “degenerative individualism.” The ban was lifted in 1989.
7. The author had an asteroid named after him in 1983. It passes the Earth every 523 days.
8. On July 3, 2013, Google celebrated what would have been the writer’s 130thbirthday with The Metamorphosis—inspired doodle.
9. According to Max Brod, Kafka never lied; the author believed in “absolute truthfulness.”
10. Kafka asked Brod to burn all his unpublished manuscripts after his death. Brod didn’t comply, publishing The Trial and other Kafka classics posthumously.