23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Radka Denemarková

Radka Denemarková was born in 1968 in Kutná Hora. After completing her studies and PhD in Prague she lectured at the Institute for Czech Literature at the Charles University as well as worked as a translator and journalist.

Her second novel »Peníze od Hitlera« [2006; tr: A Wonderful Patch of Earth], which was awarded the prestigious Czech Magnesia-Litera-Prize in 2007, tells the story of the Jewish girl Gita who escapes death in a concentration camp and returns to her home in Bohemia following the war. However, she is denounced as a German-speaking collaborator by the villagers, humiliated, and once again driven away. After spending her life in Prague working as a doctor, Gita risks one more attempt to return to the home of her lost childhood in order to reconcile with her family, but once again she encounters bitter hostility from the village’s younger generation. Denemarková’s physiological precision reflects her lucid and poetically imagistic language, which relentlessly highlights the directly experienced reality of human brutality and perfidy. This mode of writing, oriented on the scenic, is a result of influences which include her work as a translator of Bertolt Brecht and Thomas Bernhard and her time spent as a reader and dramatic advisor at the Prague theatre Divadlo Na zábradlí.

Alongside scripts written for documentary films about Czech figures, Denemarková is noted for her factual novel about the theatrical director Pétr Lébla »Smrt, nebudeš se báti aneb příběh Petra Lébla« [2008; tr: Death, You Will Not Be Afraid; or, The Story of Petra Lébla]. Her theoretically concise and detailed writing style is joined here with a fascination of the theatrical world and the powerful literary appropriation of controversial social themes. In her own way, Denemarková thus brings herself full-circle back to her first novel »A já pořád kdo to tluče« [2005; tr: Who is Constantly Knocking?], which uses hysterical prose to portray the theatrical milieu as a place of deep passions in a tense and thrillingly grotesque story of murder, addiction, and existential doubts. This is yet another facet of Denemarková’s boundary-crossing writing. Her stage play »Spaci vady« [tr: Sleep Disorders] premiered at the Divadlo Na zábradlí theatre in Prague in 2010. After two additional novels and the Holocaust memorial book »Als wäre das alles gestern geschehen« [2021; tr: As if It All Happened Yesterday], her novel »Hodiny z olova« [2018; tr: Hours of Lead«], which is an angry indictment of Chinese dictatorship and Europe’s hypocritical approach, was recently published and was awarded the Magnesia Litera Award. It was reviewed as an »opus magnus«, with which the author »enrolled herself in the league of authors deserving of the Nobel Prize« [Daniela Strigl, ORF Ö1, Ex libris].

The author has also received a number of other awards, including the Georg Dehio Book Prize, the H. C. Artmann Scholarship, the Leuk Literature Prize, the Usedomer Literaturpreis, Literaturpreis des Landes Steiermark, and the Magnesa Litera for her translation of Herta Müller’s »Atemschaukel«. She lives and works in Prague.

Date: 2022