“Well, lads, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it myself!” Most passengers on a round-the-world journey have a story or two to tell. But a tax official who ends up on a luxury cruise ship because of a lottery ticket… Well, Johann Gottlieb Fichtl has more to write home about than most. A member of a winning lottery syndicate, he leaves his native Bavaria with a borrowed dinner jacket and a collection of novelty ties, and embarks on a voyage of discovery that takes him from the bilge to the penthouse deck and across the seven seas.
Fichtl records the strange events on board the five-star Europa in his logbook: 184 days and 184 incredible stories. Dinner at the captain’s table, a caviar gala, baptism on the line, a titmouse that nests in a passenger’s hair net, a hog that lives in the keel, a geriatric skydiver, a compass that goes haywire in Tasmania and a legendary concert with seventeen tenors that makes a fatal impression on the piano tuner’s watch – life on the cruise ship is never boring, but are the stories too fanciful to be true?
On a deeper level, the liner is a cabinet of curiosities, a floating magic mountain of our times. Most of the passengers throw themselves into the frivolity of the five-class lifestyle, chasing after the champagne, rumours and gossip, and sailing past the questions at the heart of real life. But one passenger is changed forever by the journey. By the time the vessel comes into harbour, Johann Gottlieb Fichtl has found his calling, and his incredible story takes on a life of its own…
Around the World in 180 Days is a modern-day picaresque novel, an inspired tour de farce, which brings the idiosyncrasies of our society into hilarious focus. Matthias Politycki uses his satirical talents to send the reader on a rollicking journey.
“Few travel(ling) writers scrutinize the strange and the familiar with the perceptiveness of Matthias Politycki: three cheers for the king of dark comedy!”
(Alexandra Kedves, Neue Zürcher Zeitung)