The Other City

The Other City

by Michal Ajvaz
     
 

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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,

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Reading such a world means stepping inside it, letting it infect you, bruise, scrape, poison and obsess you."--Jonathan Bolton, CONTEXT

Dalkey Archive Press

Publishers Weekly

In Ajvaz's first novel to be translated into English, a Borgesian cohort of freakish creatures, talking birds and eccentric city dwellers lurk on the margins of an alternative Prague. An unnamed protagonist learns that a book written in an unearthly language is an opening to a dangerous world that is just around the corner from normal life. More and more frequently, the protagonist stumbles across scenes from the other city-he spies on an inscrutable religious service, is treated to "a lecture on the subject of Latest Discoveries about the Great Battle in the Bedrooms." The city's inhabitants do not take kindly to his intrusions; he is pursued by weasels, shot at by a helicopter and nearly eaten by a half-man, half-shark. Meanwhile, overheard conversations dissolve into nonsense, elk are stabled inside statues and birds recite passages from an epic poem. Ajvaz's novel is a gorgeous matryoshka doll of unreason, enigma and nonsense-truly weird and compelling. (June)

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Ceska Literatura
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.
Jonathan Bolton
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.
CONTEXT

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781564784919
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
06/11/2009
Series:
Eastern European Literature Series
Pages:
168
Sales rank:
1,169,116
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Michal Ajvaz is a Czech novelist, essayist, poet, and translator. In 2005, he was awarded the Jaroslav Seifert Prize for his novel Prázdné ulice (Empty Streets). He is a researcher at Prague's Center for Theoretical Studies. In addition to fiction, he has published an essay on Derrida, a book-length meditation on Borges, and a philosophical study on the act of seeing.

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