Kafka's Last Love: The Mystery of Dora Diamant by Kathi Diamant book covers in various countries

Great Things Said

"…a surprisingly immediate biography … In this moving, detailed and fascinating biography, Kafka was a man who liked a laugh… This is not a biography that merely offers a different angle on the life of a great writer…on the contrary, Dora's life is a remarkable one in itself, a reflection of some of the greatest, and worst, moments of the early 20th century… The death of Kafka was just the beginning of the story for Dora – and what an amazing story it is."

------ Sunday Herald, July 20, 2003 (Scotland)

"Little has been written about Dora as a person, and in this, the first biography, Kafka's Last Love, Dora's namesake, Kathi Diamant aims to set the record right. It is a remarkable tale, which crisscrosses Europe from Poland to Germany and from Austria to Russia, ending in England, where Dora spent her final years. …Kathi Diamant astutely combines printed and unpublished sources …to create a vivid and coherent account. … In telling her extraordinary tale, Kathi Diamant has written a clear and absorbing book, which provides a fitting monument to a remarkable woman."

------ Jeremy Adler in the Evening Standard, July 28, 2003 (London)

"Does half a year's cohabitation justify a biography? If courage (amidst the Jews' 1930s nightmare) and pathos are the measure, the answer is a resounding yes. What's more, there is voluminous new material. …She is a good historian, presenting a concise and comprehensive summary of the deterioration of the Weimar currency in the 1920s Berlin…she illuminates a little-known and crucial time in Kafka's life. Her book is deeply moving and will be of particular interest to students of Yiddishist groups in Berlin, London and Austria."

----- Brenda Maddox in Literary Review, August 2003 (London)

"Kathi Diamant (probably no relation) puts that right. In doing so she has performed many mizvoth, or good deeds: for Dora herself, for Kafka, and also for literary biography, because she has not only cast new light on a great writer, but written a good and moving book in its own right. This biography is almost too moving. …At the same time, Kafka's Last Love is alive with vivid, contradictory humanity…. Diamant herself is a literary outsider, a former journalist who writes colourful, journalistic prose…her writing is clear and gripping, her research prodigious. With this book both she and her beloved Dora must surely emerge from the margins of Kafka scholarship."

------ Carole Angier in The Sunday Times of London, Aug 3, 2003

"As Diamant vividly shows, Dora's connection with Kafka did not end with his death. …After his death, Dora's life story becomes a fascinating trajectory of the history of 20th-century Europe….Kathi Diamant tells us all that happened to Dora Diamant, and it is a fascinating story."

----- The Telegraph, August 9, 2003 (London)

"…a story which touches on 20th -century history at some of its most inflamed points… It would be possible to approach Kathi Diamant's book as a kind of extended footnote to Kafka, but no one is likely to think of it in those terms by the time they have finished it. Dora is too interesting for that, and too impressive. Her story was worth telling on its own account, and Kathi Diamant has told it well."

----- John Gross in Sunday Telegraph, August 10, 2003

"Of all of Kafka's women, Dora is the most mysterious as so little has been written about her. In this first biography, Kathi Diamant remedies our ignorance of this remarkable woman and offers a moving tribute to her heroine. The author has researched prodigiously among Gestapo files and declassified Comintern documents held in Moscow. Using these and other unpublished materials, she constructs a riveting tale of love and war in coffee-house Europe. …This sad story, for the most part beautifully told, offers an elegy for a lost world as well as a memorial…."

------ Ian Thomson in The Observer August 11, 2003

"Their relationship would last less than a year…but their love, for that brief time, was idyllic. As far as Dora was concerned, the memory of it was to dominate the rest of her life, though as this painstakingly research biography shows, she would have plenty to occupy her post-Kafka years….The mystery of Dora is how, while so often managing to be in the wrong place, she survived some the great disasters of the 20th century: Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, the Second World War."

------ The Independent on Sunday, 17 August 2003 (London)

"The preoccupation of both writer and subject …meshes wonderfully to produce a compelling biography which has something profound to say about the wider world... with the vast sweep of locations and the rhythmic beat of twentieth-century history, Kafka's Last Love could have been an almost melodramatic biography. There is war, tragedy and deep, enduring love. But there is something even more profound. The shadow of Kafka hung over Dora's life, but it is more accurate to say that Kafka illuminates the book. And this is Kathi Diamant's unalloyed triumph. Kafkaesque is synonymous with a nightmare world of oppression, guilt and fear. Yet both Diamant's subject and author conspire to produce a more wonderful and indeed a more convincing portrait of the writer."

--Hugh MacDonald in The Herald, August 18, 2003 (Scotland)

"A welcome, well-written addition to Kafka studies, valuable in its portrayal of the writer as a human being, not a monument."

------ Kirkus Reviews

"Franz Kafka's story is well known, Dora Diamant's is not. She was, as the title states, his "last love," and the author (no relation), director of the Kafka Project at San Diefo State University, has assiduously tracked the traces of her subjects through personal recollections, private papers and newly opened archives in the former Soviet bloc."

------ Publishers Weekly

"The remarkable story continues in Moscow, London, San Francisco and Tel Aviv, the far-flung points of dispersal of a family caught in the maelstroms of fascism, communism and the Holocaust."

------ Publishers Weekly

"Kathi Diamant describes a Franz Kafka far different from a grim, inaccessible genius. 'Kafka's Last Love' illuminates the relationship between the writer and Dora Diamant (no relation to the author), the woman with whom he spent the last year of his life."

------ The New York Times Book Review

"Kathi has performed a demanding and heroic act of literary sleuthing to piece together Dora's remarkable story."

------ Booklist

"Kathi's captivating account of their brief but intense time together illuminates both Kafka's genius and Dora's joie de vivre, and serves as prelude to the traumas Dora faced after Kafka's death."

------ Booklist

"...Kathi's reclaiming of Dora Diamant's extraordinary spirit has brought many other treasures to light."

------ Booklist

"Compelling told, this rare biography is recommended for Kafka scholars as well as for academic libraries with programs in Judaica or women's studies."

------ Library Journal

"Moving account of the one-woman phenomenon who, among other things, made the unhappy Franz Kafka's final year a little less miserable."

------ Kirkus Reviews

"This biography/detective story shines new light on Kafka's life and work, through the prism of the life of Dora Diamant, the woman for whom Kafka finally declared his independence from his tyrannical father only a year before he died."

------ The Star-Ledger, Newark NJ

"An improbably rich and gracefully written tale..."

------ The Washington Times

"This is only one gripping story of many in a book written by a woman who is not otherwise a scholar or a reader of literature, but who has devoted the last 30 years of her life to researching Dora Diamant, after a college professor in 1971 interrupted his German literature class to ask her if she was related to Kafka's last mistress. She promised to find out and let him know. This is the report some 30 plus years later, and it is a story that goes far beyond Kafka and into the heartbreak house of 20th-century Europe."

------ Buffalo News

"For all that, she has done a tireless and professional job of researching Dora Diamant, scouring archives and conducting interviews in England, Germany and Israel, and has written a suspenseful book about Kafka and Dora that gives us a cross-section of European history and a harrowing account of lives lost and lives found. By following her own muse and fascination, she has produced a powerful and heartbreaking book."

------ Buffalo News