Author(s): Franz Kafka
On his thirtieth birthday, the bank clerk Josef K. is suddenly arrested by mysterious agents for an unspecified crime. He is told that he will be set free, but must make regular appearances at a court in the attic of a tenement building while his trial proceeds. Although he never comes to know the particulars of his case, Josef K. finds his life taken over by the opaque bureaucratic procedures and is tormented by the psychological pressures exerted by his legal nightmare.
Published the year after the author 's death, but written ten years earlier, The Trial is the most acclaimed of Kafka 's three novels, and is both a haunting meditation on freedom and the powerlessness of the individual in the face of state power, and an ominous prefiguration of the totalitarian excesses of the twentieth century.