The Other City: A Novel

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.

The Other City

A Novel

Michal Ajvaz, Gerald Turner (translator)

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

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Prague's stunning architecture and magical atmosphere make it one of Europe's must-visit cities. But we love it because it's full of stories. Everywhere you look, there's a tale to be told, a mystery to unravel.

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