Journey to the South

Michal Ajvaz

Michal Ajvaz: Journey to the South

Original title: Cesta na jih

Genre: novel


Druhé město, 2008, 2019

ISBN: 978-80-7227-278-5

Pages: 552


shortlisted for Magnesia Litera for prose 2009

Foreign editions:

Bulgarian (Ergo, 2012, Margarita Kyurchieva), Polish (Książkowe Klimaty, 2016, Leszek Engelking), English (Dalkey Archive Press/Deep Vellum, 2023, Andrew Oakland), Slovenian (Sanje, 2024, Anjuša Belehar)

Rights sold to:

Poland (Stara Szkoła, second edition)


In a small village on the southern coast of Crete, the narrator meets a young man who tells him a history of his journey which took him from Prague as far as to the Libyan sea. It is a voyage to uncover mysterious deaths of two brothers. One was murdered during the ballet performance, the body of the second one was found by Turkish fishermen at the Asia Minor shores. On the move, the amateur detective is accompanied by one of the brothers´ girlfriend. They have to work out a lot of traces, clues and rebuses – seemingly meaningless clusters of letters in the picture of a Hungarian painter, fragments of words created in the sea by bodies of phosphorescing worms, puzzling shapes of jelly sweets found in a small shop in Croatia or the plot of an American sci-fi thriller movie, which the protagonists watch in the cinema in Rome suburb. Such leads send the heroes from town to town, the plot takes part on night trains and many places in Europe - in Bratislava, Budapest, Lublan, on the islands of Mykon and Crete… With the search for the murderer of both the brothers many other stories are interconnected, and they take the readers to even more distant places of the Earth: Moscow, Boston, Mexico City…

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