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...
Michal Ajvaz is a poet and writer whose works might be described as playful literary fantasies filled with symbolism. His first book came out when he was in his forties, although he has been writing with various intervals since he was fifteen. He has won the Magnesia Litera and the French Utopiales prize for science fiction. His books have been translated into English, French, Japanese, Italian, Croatian, Macedonian, Norwegian and Russian. Dalkey Archive Press has published several of Ajvaz's books, including The Other City (translated by Gerald Turner), Empty Streets (translated by Andrew Oakland), and most recently Journey to the South (also translated by Andrew Oakland).