Jimmy the Sloth and His Backup Band

Pavel Bareš

Pavel Bareš: Jimmy the Sloth and His Backup Band

Original title: Lenochod Jimmy & jeho backup band


Host, 2023

ISBN: 978-80-275-1770-1

Pages: 455


shortlisted for Magnesia Litera in the Fantasy and Sci-fi category 2024


Music novel by a voice of the younger generation


Jimmy the Sloth and His Backup Band never made it onto the radio. Their career in the music industry ended exactly as it began: as a below-average high-school garage band incapable of giving fans anything of lasting value but chronic whistling in the ears.

Fifteen years later, Dylan is damaging his back in an office job, Jess is fraying her nerves as a teacher at her alma mater, and Casper is trying and failing to take the reins of family life. Nothing remains of their wild youth on the stages of smoke-filled clubs but blurry, bittersweet memories. But then former bandmate Ollie is back with an idea too absurd to refuse: Jimmy the Sloth and His Backup Band should re-form and return to the festival where everything went wrong all those years earlier, turn back time, and realize the dreams of their youth before every last one of them becomes a zombie in the grip of adult responsibilities.        

Jimmy the Sloth and His Backup Band is a book about music and the power that slumbers within it, adulthood and fear, friendship, loss, pain and reconciliation. It is also about the need for the bass to keep time with the drums and the belief that playing well is less important than playing loud. 


"Four years ago Pavel Bareš did something admirable with his novel Meta: he convinced readers that even in Czech fantasy, which has been dominated by more or less expertly crafted action stories, it is possible to write a modern-day civil-life story that works purposefully with the anxieties and problems of young people and uses fantasy motifs not as mere spectacles or crutches for shifts in the story, but to highlight the seriousness of its themes. In the first half at least, the musical-existential horror is much more playful, while paying homage to more than just the author’s frontman past. Few works in Czech literature are so able to adeptly capture the fear and frustration that accompany growing up and finding one’s place in a world which, frankly, really isn’t worth much without empathy. But that’s ultimately Bareš’s message: even if magic and paranormal abilities work, never trust them or rely on them more than empathy and your own humanity."

Statement made by the Magnesia Litera panel

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