“Kafka is not the only author to lend his name to an adjective – Merriam-Webster also points to Dickensian and Byronic, but there are many. Proustian. Joycean. Miltonic. Chaucerian. Pinteresque. Woolfian. Faulknerian.
Perhaps almost as abused as Kafkaesque is Orwellian. The OED defines it as “characteristic of Orwell’s writings, esp. the totalitarian state in his dystopian account of the future, Nineteen Eighty-Four”. But the New York Times says its use “reduces Orwell’s palette to a single shade of noir. It brings to mind only sordid regimes of surveillance and thought control and the distortions of language that make them possible”, while an excellent Daily Mash article argues that the word has “nothing to do with having to put your recycling out” and that “similarly, speed cameras are not ‘Orwellian’”, because “Winston Smith does not spend Nineteen Eighty-Four trying to weasel out of a £75 fine for doing 70 on the A12”.
But back to The Vegetarian, and how Kafkaesque it is, whatever that actually means to us. Tonkin also compared the novel to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and to The Bell Jar and The Yellow Wallpaper, making it, I suppose, Ovidian, Plathian, and Perkins Gilmanesque, as well (although I’m not sure if that’ll make it into the blurb).”
[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]