The Journey


By Sergio Pitol
Translated from the Spanish by George Henson

The second book in Sergio Pitol’s groundbreaking and influential “Trilogy of Memory.”

“Reading Pitol, one has the impression of being before the greatest writer in the Spanish language in our time.”— Enrique Vila-Matas

Published: August 18, 2015

Paperback: 9781941920183
Ebook: 9781941920190



The Journey features one of the world’s master storytellers at work as he skillfully recounts two weeks of travel around the Soviet Union in 1986. From the first paragraph Pitol dislocates the sense of reality, masterfully and playfully blurring the lines between fiction and fact. This adventurous story, based on the author’s own travel journals, parades through some of the territories that the author lived in and traveled through (Prague, the Caucasus, Moscow, Leningrad) as he reflects on the impact of Russia’s sacred literary pantheon in his life and the power that literature holds over us all. The Journey, the second work in Pitol’s remarkable “Trilogy of Memory” (which Deep Vellum is publishing in its entirety), won him the prestigious Cervantes Prize in 2005 and inspired the newest generation of Spanish-language writers, represents the perfect example of one of the world’s greatest authors at the peak of his power.

Additional information

Weight 1 lbs
Dimensions .25 × 5 × 8 in

Paperback, eBook


And suddenly, one day, I asked myself: Why have you never mentioned Prague in your writings? Don’t you get tired of constantly returning to the same stale topics: your childhood at the Potrero sugar mill, your astonishment upon arriving in Rome, your blindness in Venice? Do you perhaps enjoy feeling trapped inside that narrow circle? Out of sheer habit or loss of vision, of language? Is it possible that you’ve turned into a mummy or a corpse, without even realizing it?

Shock treatment can yield amazing results. It stimulates weakened fibers and rescues energy on the verge of being lost. Sometimes it’s fun to provoke yourself. Without going overboard, of course; I never ridicule myself in my self-criticism; I’m careful to alternate severity with panegyric. Instead of dwelling on my limitations, I’ve learned to accept them graciously and even with a degree of complicity. From this game, my writing is born; at least that’s how it seems to me.


Brazos Bookstore Staff Pick: “Told in intelligent and warm prose, Pitol once again shows the reader the profound importance of literature and travel in living a meaningful life. Bursting with wisdom and memories, THE JOURNEY is another unforgettable trip with a masterful guide.”

• “Witty, engaging, and regularly dizzying with its shifts between the real and the absurd, The Journey lives up to Pitol’s reputation as one of Mexico’s most intriguing writers.” — World Literature Today

“Pitol is a tactful writer who masterfully handles hundreds of different subjects in a compact, novel-like form. . . . One of his great strengths is to turn from comic sentences to those of poetic resonance with a seamless and subtle finesse….this and the preceding volume—Art of Flight—are some of the best to be published by a small press in the last few years.” — Matt Pincus, Bookslut

“Sergio Pitol is not only our best active storyteller, he is also the bravest renovator of our literature.” — Álvaro Enrigue, Letras Libres

“Pitol is probably one of Mexico’s most culturally complex and composite writers. He is certainly the strangest, most unfathomable, and eccentric. . . . [His] voice . . . reverberates beyond the margins of his books.”— Valeria Luiselli, author of Faces in the Crowd

“Pitol is unfathomable; it could almost be said that he is a literature entire of himself.” — Daniel Saldaña Paris, author of Among Strange Victims

“Reading Sergio Pitol will make any serious writer want to write—and write better. . . . In Pitol’s life and his writing, neither images nor thoughts flow naturally and automatically to their logical associations. The paradox is that these two books demonstrates this incongruity and the uncertainty it creates with absolute precision.” — West Camel, 3:AM Magazine

“Simultaneously bewildering and fascinating. . . . To close The Journey, indeed, is to feel as if a dream has ended and the reader is finally returning to the real world with its harsh surfaces and clear light.” — Jeffrey Zuckerman, The Quarterly Conversation

“In order to enjoy The Journey, the second volume of revered Mexican author Sergio Pitol’s idiosyncratic autobiographical trilogy, the reader must abandon expectations: of genre, of structure, of distinctions between the aesthetic “truth” of dreams and fiction, and truth in the sense of literal accuracy. Those who take this leap will find Pitol a warm companion and an erudite guide through both his own artistic process and a compelling moment in history that has much to say to our own.” — Anne Posten, Words Without Borders

“Lively, enlightening reading. . . . What Pitol brings to his writing is an exuberant passion that is leavened with a mature intelligence. In his search for whatever is truly original in literature and in life, he skewers any and all forms of pretentiousness.” — Terry Pitts, Vertigo

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