I love Franz Kafka's writing. I don't think there's ever been a writer quite like him, and I haven't found a writer since discovering him that has been able to truely frighten me. Gothic novels, ghost stories, horror tales, much as I love the shivers they give me, don't scare me like Kafka does. Whenever I read him, I feel like he's got me by my shirt collar and is holding me over a cliff, forcing me to look down at the waves breaking against the rocks below.
Zadie Smith has written one of the absolutment best essays on him and his writing and his career and how he fits into the scope of the novel form. It's a bit long, so be prepared to sit and read it for a while. It's absolutely beautiful though, this essay, and I am glad someone has been able to articulate these things about Kafka and his work in such a fine, precise, honoring manner.