“Kafka and the Traveling Doll”, by Jordi Sierra i Fabra

Steglitz Park, Berlin, 1923. Kafka was walking and saw a girl crying – and it seemed like the most inconsolable cry in the world. Undecided on whether or not to go to her, he was…

Dora Diamant, Kafka’s last companion and who was by his side for just a few months, told this story to the world in a book in which she recounted her life with the writer. The story was briefly told and it is not known about the contents of the letters or even who this girl was. Up to this point, the story would have taken place. From it, we only have mystery and imagination. As for the first, the mystery, some Kafka scholars tried to find this girl, but without success. And as for the imagination, Jordi Sierra i Fabra delved deep into it and the result was this fabulous little book.

Jordi took on the challenge of filling (in his own way) the gaps in this story: without any letter or more detailed account than Dora Diamant to give clues, Jordi started almost from scratch to write this beautiful story. In “ Kafka ea Boneca Viajante ”, the letters, which in real life perhaps only that girl has read, gain content; the girl who doesn’t know who it was is called Elsi; the story whose outcome we will never know has its ending drawn by Jordi Sierra i Fabra.

And the story of the book is very simple: Elsi cried for her lost doll and Kafka announces himself as a doll postman, saying that Brígida (a self-respecting doll must have a name) had traveled, but had written a letter to the girl . He had forgotten the letter at home, but would take it to the park the next day. Everything can go wrong if you mess with a child’s feelings and imagination without having a grand plan in mind beforehand. But everything can work out if you’re a great writer. Brígida travels as Kafka writes the letters that would belong to her and Elsi travels as she hears Kafka read the adventures narrated by the doll (since the dolls’ postman was also the one who read the letters). And to the reader, for no more than an hour or two, as the book has only 128 pages and some illustrations,

“The look was one of disbelief. The complete surprise. But it was a girl. The little ones want to believe. You have to believe. In your world, human distrust does not yet exist. It’s a universe of suns and moons, of linked days, full of peace, love and affection.”

This book earned the author some awards, such as the National Prize for Children and Youth Literature (Spain) in 2007 and the Youth Translation/Adaptation Award from the National Foundation for Children and Youth Books (Brazil) in 2009, in addition to awards in several other countries. The Brazilian edition is by Martins Fontes, with translation by Rubia Prates Goldoni and illustrations by Pep Montserrat.


“I was already sitting beside him, waiting. Franz Kafka took Brígida’s second letter from his coat pocket. This time, too, there was no lack of detail. The stamp was French and was taken from an envelope posted in France. In the same clear and pretty handwriting, the recipient’s name was read: ‘Mister doll postman, this letter is for Elsi’.
Elsi turned her over.
– ‘Champs Élysées, Paris’ – he read.
– How lucky your doll thinks so much about you and writes! – observed Franz Kafka.
– Brígida is a very good doll.”

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