In the spring of 2006, Austrian Lukas Birk, under the alias “Smiley Wallah” ventured into Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran as a tourist—a dangerous endeavor the average person would never dream of doing. In his travels, Birk encounters people from all over the world—Vietnam, Germany, and France, for example, and in interviews with them which he presents in the book, he reveals their stories, what brought them to the region, their views of America, and their views of the region. Lukas has been on travel for the last 10 years focusing on East Asia and the Middle East.
KAFKANISTAN is politically, visually, and socially poignant and is a gateway to voice a narrative in these amazing and often misunderstood and misrepresented countries. The American media often presents countries in the region in a negative light. Birk, however, decided to experience the countries, its people, and culture for himself. What he presents in the book is at once thought provoking, inspiring, and surprising—raising many questions about the way in which Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran are presented in the media.
The title, KAFKANISTAN, is inspired by Franz Kafka’s “Das Schloß,” or “The Castle.” Because of his nationality, Birk was given access and privilege denied to most Americans. KAFKANISTAN is an inside look at a remote, beautiful, and misunderstood region of the world.