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On reading Journey by Moonlight, by Antal Szerb

Hungarian newlyweds get separated on a train during their honeymoon in Italy. So begins an uplanned journey that runs in parallel with the married life they might have had.

This reissued classic of 1930s Eastern European fiction goes somewhere much darker than that premise (or the novel's evocative title) might suggest. Main character Mihály is both on the run and aimless. And he is utterly obsessed with death. Steer clear if you have no real stomach for depressive lit. But be aware as well that the book's genre-infused tropes and character twists are delivered to the page by an author who is utterly in control of his craft. If you do set off with Mihály and assorted friends and ghosts on this dreary, funny misadventure, you can be sure of arriving somewhere unexpected by the end.

Journey by Moonlight is published by Pushkin Press.

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