Franz Kafka was a Jewish-Czech writer whose works greatly influenced 20th century fiction, especially the short-story form. Although he was not particularly well recognized during his lifetime, the stewardship of his friend Max Brod resulted in the posthumous publishing of a number of Kafka's works.
Kafka was the eldest of an upwardly mobile merchant family in Prague. His parents insisted that he learn German (in addition to Czech) and made sure that he received a top quality education. Graduating from gymnasium (high school) Kafka matriculated to Charles Ferdinand University where he studied law. More importantly however, it was at University that Kafka met his lifelong friend Max Brod, also a writer.
After completing his law degree in 1906, Kafka took a job in the insurance industry, which gave him the necessary time and energy to focus on his writing. He was not inclined to publish these works, but eventually assembled a collection of short stories entitled Meditation (1913).
Unfortunately, Kafka's health began to deteriorate at about the same time. He was stricken with tuberculosis, and spent the remainder of his life battling the disease. He did however continue to write, and also became more interested in the Jewish culture of his youth.
At the time of his death in 1924, a number of Kafka's works remained unfinished. And although he had requested that his friend Max Brod burn the remaining notes, manuscripts, and letters— Brod did quite the opposite. Taking a few liberties with the texts, Brod organized and edited the works so that they were fit to be published.
All three of Kafka’s sisters were murdered in the Holocaust.
Today, Kafka's work is synonymous with a number of literary movements including modernism and existentialism among others. His style has influenced nearly every great fiction writer of the twentieth century.