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Mr. K Released

Mirroring Romania’s drastic transition from totalitarianism to Western-style freedom in the late 1980s, Mr. K Released captures the disturbingly surreal feeling that many newly liberated prisoners face when they leave captivity. Employing his trademark playful absurdity, Matéi Visniec introduces us to Mr. K, a Kafkaesque figure who has been imprisoned for years for an undisclosed crime in a penitentiary with mysterious tunnels.
One day, Mr. K finds himself unexpectedly released. Unable to comprehend his sudden liberation, he becomes traumatized by the realities of freedom—more so than the familiar trauma of captivity or imprisonment. In the hope of obtaining some clarification, Mr. K keeps waiting for an appointment with the prison governor, however, their meeting is constantly being delayed. During this endless process of waiting, Mr. K gets caught up in a clinical exploration of his physical surroundings. He does not have the courage or indeed inclination to leave, but can move unrestricted within the prison compound, charting endless series of absurd circles in which readers might paradoxically recognize themselves.

280 pages | 5 x 8 | © 2019


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"Mr. K Released is a delightfully absurd, surreal novel about the disorienting qualities of freedom. . . . an engrossing novel of ideas that is entertaining and challenging in its strangeness."

Foreword Reviews

"Both amusing and alienating, the variation on a theme that is Mr. K Released naturally raises questions for the contemporary reader in an increasingly troubled world, where the illusory nature of human liberty increasingly shows itself not to be a thing of the past."

World Literature Today

"Part parable of human fallibility, part allegorical critique of political systems at which we fail and which fail us, Mr. K Released draws on the chaotic transition from totalitarianism to democracy that Romania, Matéi Visniec’s homeland. . . experienced after the collapse of communism in the late 1980s."

Reading in Translation

"This portrait of a man tormented by doubt, weighed down by the burden of responsibility, is both touching and funny... a sharp and empathetic dissection of life's dilemmas." 

European Literature Network

"Matei Vişniec’s prolific dramatic work is steeped in Kafka’s enigmatic, surreal and absurd universe."

The AALITRA Review

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