The last book published during Kafka's lifetime, A Hunger Artist (1924) explores many of the themes that were close to him: spiritual poverty, asceticism, futility, and the alienation of the modern artist. He edited the manuscript just before his death, and these four stories are some of his best known and most powerful work, marking his maturity as a writer. In addition to "First Sorrow," "A Little Woman," and "Josephine, the Singer," is the title story, "A Hunger Artist," which has been called by the critic Heinz Politzer "a perfection, a fatal fulfillment that expresses Kafka's desire for permanence." The three volumes Twisted Spoon has published: Contemplation, A Country Doctor, and A Hunger Artist represent the collections of stories that Kafka had published during his lifetime. Though each volume has its own distinctive character, they have most often appeared in English in collected editions. They are presented here as separate editions, in new translations, each with its own illustrator from the Prague community.
"Kafka's sirens are silent. Perhaps for Kafka music and singing are an expression or at least a token of escape, a token of hope which comes to us from that intermediate world - at once unfinished and commonplace, comforting and silly - in which the assistants are at home. Kafka is like the lad who set out to learn what fear was. He has got into Potemkin's palace and finally, in the depths of its cellar, has encountered Josephine, the singing mouse ..." -- Walter Benjamin