Last year, I put Michal Ajvaz's The Other City on Amazon's top 10 list for SF/Fantasy and wrote about it for Omnivoracious, saying in part, "There's a tension in the novel between the fanciful and the baroque, the cleverly odd and the deeply odd, that makes the novel work. It's the kind of book you let wash over you in waves--episodic, funny but not too silly, and marked by a first-class imagination."
Now Ajvaz is back with The Golden Age, about a modern-day Gulliver's encounter with a civilization on a tiny island in the Atlantic. At the center of the islanders' culture is the Book, a handwritten, collective novel "filled with feuding royal families, murderous sorcerers, and narrow escapes." Because anyone can write in it and annotate it and cross passages out, the Book has lost most of the linear tendencies that rule the pages of normal (but mere) books. The result is a text of stories within stories and a destabilization of narrative that's as playful as it is fascinating.
I recently interviewed Ajvaz via email to talk about his writing and his latest novel. If you'd like a sample of his fiction, check out his wonderful story "The End of the Garden" online. For analysis of his work, try this essay.