The only Czech I ever knew personally was my uncle Yaacov, who hadn’t lived in Czechoslovakia (which is still what it was when he was born there) since he was a teenager, and who never, as far as I can recall, mentioned Kafka, though their lives may have overlapped by a couple of years, and though two of Kafka’s sisters died in the same concentration camp in which he was a prisoner. And really the only other things I know about Czechia, or the Czech Republic if you prefer, is that Prague is in it, and about Prague I know only that Kafka was in it for a while and before that it had a golem. Toward the end of his life Kafka actually had in common with golems that he lacked the power of speech. And that what life he had was given to him by the power of the written word. So it’s possible that he was himself a golem only he would have been the worst golem, a really incompetent rabbi must have made him because instead of getting stronger and stronger until he had to be destroyed he got weaker and weaker until he couldn’t be kept alive. “Vey iz mir!” cries the rabbi. “I created you to defend the Jews of Prague, and all you do is scribble!”

“What have I in common with Jews?” Kafka replies. “I have hardly anything in common with myself and should stand very quietly in a corner, content that I can breathe.”