The Other City
Translated by Gerald Turner
Amazon.com Editor's Top 10 Science Fiction/Fantasy Book of 2009
Selected as one of the best books of 2009 by Time Out New York
Selected as one of the best books of 2009 by Locus Magazine
In this strange and lovely hymn to Prague, Michal Ajvaz repopulates the city of Kafka with ghosts, eccentrics, talking animals, and impossible statues, all lurking on the peripheries of a town so familiar to tourists. The Other City is a guidebook to this invisible, "other Prague," overlapping the workaday world: a place where libraries can turn into jungles, secret passages yawn beneath our feet, and waves lap at our bedspreads. Heir to the tradition and obsessions of Jorge Luis Borges, as well as the long and distinguished line of Czech fantasists, Ajvaz's Other City—his first novel to be translated into English—is the emblem of all the worlds we are blind to, being caught in our own ways of seeing.
Nb of pages 148 p.
Publication Date 01 June 2009
Nb of pages 148
List Price $13.95
I was walking up and down the rows of books at the antiquarian bookseller’s in Karlova Street. Now and then I would take a look out the shop window. It started to snow heavily; holding a book in my hand I watched the snowflakes swirling in front of the wall of St Savior’s Church. I returned to my book, savoring its aroma and allowing my eyes to flit over its pages, reading here and there the fragment of a sentence that suddenly sparkled mysteriously because it was taken out of context. I was in no hurry; I was happy to be in a room that smelled pleasantly of old books, where it was warm and quiet, where the pages rustled as they were turned, as if the books were sighing in their sleep. I was glad I didn’t have to go out into the darkness and the snowstorm.
The novel is reminiscent of Surrealism in the way it departs from common experience and 'common sense,' attacks logical rules and customs, and takes things out of their familiar contexts. It is, however, a work more of invention and intellectual game than of spontaneous imagination. The ornamental imagery becomes fixed in obsessive formulae and configurations, and this is somewhat disproportionate to how it eludes definite, accepted meanings, and moves to other possibilities and worlds, which are protean and ever emerging, and to how it calls upon us to accept another cosmos. The setting is a textual maze from which there is no escape and whose ultimate meaning remains forever inaccessible, since the ultimate contexts are never emphasized.
The texts of the Czech writer Michal Ajvaz (pronounced EYE-voss) are evidence not only of a clever imagination, but also of a mind that savors the difficulty of reading—a mind for which language is not merely a vehicle for the delivery of information, but an integral part of the very world it is trying to communicate. Reading such a world means stepping inside it, letting it infect you, bruise, scrape, poison and obsess you.- Jonathan Bolton
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Originally circulated in Czechoslovakia in an underground edition of nineteen typewritten copies (which landed the author in jail for "initiating disorder"), The Questionnaire is Jirí Grusa's internationally acclaimed masterpiece.
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Genres : Fiction : Europe : Central Europe
Countries : Czech Republic