The Golden Age is a work by Czech author Michal Ajvaz, published in the Czech language in 2001, and published in English in 2010. The novel describes an island somewhere in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere close to the Canary Islands. The book is an imaginary travelogue, describing the culture of the islands.
The islanders, who are of an uncertain derivation, have a very unique culture, one that seems to be devoid of what is normally considered art, religion or politics. They are peaceful to the point of placidity, having a strange appreciation for things that others might overlook, and have a nest of words to describe the patterns of cracks and stains on walls.
The one work of art that the islanders do have is "The Book", a book that is passed around from person to person, and is open for editing, insertion and deletion. The Book has no unifying plot, but is instead is a series of framing stories, where digressions and explanations are inserted into pockets in the book, which then have sub-pockets, and so on and on. After explaining about the islanders and the book, the last third of the book is an extract from just one of the books many tales, a recursive story with many digressions of royal families feuding with strange strategies. At the end of the extract, the narrator makes a few concluding remarks that don't go far to explaining the purpose of either The Golden Age or The Book.
This work is very challenging, and it is one of the few challenging books I have read for a while. Although in parts it is slow reading, it is still interesting, and the soap opera nature of The Book is quite amusing to read. However, after reading the book, I was happily confused as to what the point of the work was. There is a good chance that pointlessness was the point, and in fact I have many suspicions about the overall philosophical background of the author, but I think I will let my thoughts ferment for a while on this topic.