This novel of magical realism (168 pages) was published in June of 2009 by Dalkey Archive Press. The book takes you to an alternative version of Prague. David read The Other City and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.
Things get weird in this novel in all the right ways. It is 100-percent pure, uncut magical realism.
Poetic and beautifully strange, this story brings to life a shadow version of Prague that overlaps the city most of us experience and then asks the question: Which is actually more real?
The story begins when an anonymous narrator discovers a book on the shelf of a second-hand bookshop. The remarkable volume has a purple spine and emits a green glow. It’s written in a language he doesn’t understand.
This unusual tome is the catalyst for his exploration of an alternative Prague — the other city — the one with dark, mysterious places and events that seem to defy the laws of nature.
Ajvaz’s words paint stunning images that propel you through the story. It’s a celebration — although an admittedly surreal one — of reading, of taking the unfamiliar path, of learning to truly see the wonders that surround us.
One of best ways to explore Prague is to wander down an alley or into a courtyard, to climb up a stairway or through a shadowy passage, just to see where you end up. This novel is the literary equivalent of that experience.
If you find that idea and the quote below appealing, then this unusual (perhaps purple-spined, pulsating green) book is just right for you.
“I know who you are; I was watching television when they showed a live transmission of your duel with the shark — I was rooting for you all the way. I really envy you; it must have been beautiful to fight with a shark above the town at night. — Michal Ajvaz
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
If you like the work we do, you can help support us through our Patreon! That'll unlock additional content, too — like Mel's recipe for Banh Mi Bowls, and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is © 2021 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.