Denemarková Radka webPhoto: Milan MalíčekRadka Denemarková, born 1968, is a Czech novelist, dramatist, TV screenplay writer, translator, essayist, teacher of creative writing. The only Czech writer who has received Magnesia Litera prizes three times (in different categories – for prose, non-fiction and translation). She studied German and Czech at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, gaining her doctorate in 1997. She worked as a researcher at the Institute for Czech Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and was dramatic advisor at the Na zábradlí theatre in Prague. She has been freelance since 2004. She is the author of Sám sobě nepřítelem / Being My Own Enemy (1998; a monograph about theatre and film director Evald Schorm), Ohlédnutí za Milenou Honzíkovou /Remembering Milena Honzíková (2003; in: Dopis zmizelému / Letter to the One Who Disappeared) and is the editor of the anthology Zlatá šedesátá / The Golden Sixties (2000). Her debut work of fiction A já pořád kdo to tluče / The Devil by the Nose was published in 2005, followed a year later by the novel Peníze od Hitlera / Money from Hitler (winner of the prestigious Magnesia Litera prize for the year’s best work of prose). The Polish edition of the latter work was nominated for the Angelus Prize (2009), while the German edition Ein herrlicher Flecken Erde (DVA 2011) won the Usedom Prize for Literature (2011) and Georg Dehio Prize (2012). For the monograph Smrt, nebudeš se báti aneb Příběh Petra Lébla / You Will not be Afraid of Death: The Story of Petr Lébl (2008) she won a Magnesia Litera for the year’s best work of non-fiction. In 2010 the Na zábradlí theatre produced her black comedy Spací vady / Sleeping Disorders. For her rendering of Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller’s Atemschaukel (Czech title: Rozhoupaný dech), Radka Denemarková won the 2011 Magnesia Litera for translation of the year. Her double novel Kobold: An Abundacne of Tenderness - An Abundance of People was published in 2011. In autumn 2014 she published a novel Příspěvek k dějinám radosti / A Contribution to History of Joy. Her book US 2 / MY 2 (2014) was filmed (directed by Slobodanka Radun, premiered November 2014). Radka Denemarková’s works have been translated into 20 languages. She was awarded a one year tenure as Town Scribe of the City of Graz, Austria 2017/18. Her latest novel Hodiny z Olova is published by Host in December 2018. The book won the Magnesia Litera 2019 award as book of the year. She lives in Prague with daughter Ester and son Jan. (website in Czech, English, German)

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1436 1

Host 2018
739 pp

Amaltea - for 2021

Awarded with the Magnesia Litera prize 2019 as book of the year!

A novel inspired by the author's stays in China

The same decisive expression "hours of lead" will determine the fate of several families of different generations from various European countries and backgrounds. A Czech business man, his wife and teenage daughter, a Russian diplomat, a French writer, a student of calligraphy, a chef and many other protagonists with their family traumas, midlife crisis, burnouts and puberty. Pilgrims and travelers who have gone to China to sort out their lives, yet their world continues falling apart. They loose something irreversibly and they can not understand what it is. Looking for a solid point in their past life, yet unable to know what to recall.

As in their private stories, there is a dramatic break, something essential is coming undone and changing the fate of us all. The old world of Europe is over and no one understands what is in store. As every character in the novel experiences their marginal situaltion as an existential and personal nemesis, we also live the "leaden hour" toghether. People are retreating themselves and the era of resigned apathy and demoralization begins, the era of everyday gray totalitarian consumerism. Yet there is still a chance to act. You just need to read and follow the signs.



Literary fiction
Host, 2014
329 pp

Hoffmann & Campe 2019

KUD Police dubove 2016 
Amaltea 2017
Sovera/Aspasia 2018
Galaxis Gutenberg
- for 2019?
Nauka 2019
Strik 2018
Chinese simplified:
Flower City Publishing - for 2020


The body of a wealthy middle-aged businessman is found in his luxury villa in Prague.  Initially nothing suggests foul play but the man’s widow insists it couldn’t possibly be suicide.  As he begins to investigate, the policeman finds himself attracted to the young and beautiful widow.

A trail leads him to an orange house with a red roof on Prague’s Petřín hill, inhabited by three extraordinary elderly women: a yoga instructor, a filmmaker and a teacher of creative writing.  While the old ladies are away on some mysterious business, the policeman sneaks into their house. In the basement he discovers a vast archive of documents dating back from World War II to the present.

What connects the murder case with the three women and their treasure trove documenting thousands of cases of rape and abuse?  Will the family of the young Indian woman who died after being gang-raped ever get justice? Will the ringleaders of the gang in the north of England who groomed young girls and forced them into prostitution ever be convicted for their crimes?  Or is vigilante justice the only possible response to such evil?  

Only twittering swallows, roaming freely from continent to continent, have the answers and can make all the connections from their bird’s eye view.  Disguised as a crime novel and combining fact and fiction, Radka Denemarková’s fourth novel is a passionate indictment of all forms of violence against the disenfranchised whenever and wherever it occurs and a call for humanity in our society.



Literary fiction
Host 2011
328 pp

Modrijan 2013
Ksiazkowe Klimaty 2019
Excerpts published in German and English

An Abundance of Tenderness / An Abundance of People
A Double Novel

Prague, Christmas 1941.  Michael Kobold, a man obsessed with the river Vltava and Charles Bridge, tries to put a coat on the statue of St. John Nepomuk. Man and statue tumble into the freezing river. In the ensuing commotion, 17-year-old budding writer Hella, a sensitive girl from a well-to-do Jewish family, jumps off the Bridge to avoid being crushed by the crowd. In the rescue boat she encounters and falls for Kobold, half-man and half-water goblin, and marries him against the wishes of her family. She escapes being deported with her parents to a concentration camp, only to end up in the prison of a destructive marriage.

Prague, early 21st century. Hella’s and Kobold’s daughter returns to her native city after many years abroad and recalls the devastating impact her parents’ relationship and the fateful river had had on herself and her younger twin brothers.

A working-class neighbourhood on the outskirts of Prague, present day. Justýna, an unemployed young Roma single mother is desperately trying to make ends meet and keep custody of her nine children. The only person who is genuinely fond of her and secretly tries to help is a lonely, disabled funeral parlour attendant. However, amidst a newly prosperous, indifferent society neither of the two unfortunate, marginalized characters stands a chance.

Kobold is two stories in one, water and fire, two elements in one. It is left to the reader to decide which part to read first, and the link between the stories and characters is revealed only gradually.  AN ABUNDANCE OF TENDERNESS, the longer of the two stories, is a powerful indictment of domestic violence and the totalitarian undercurrents lurking within individuals and families. The second and shorter story, AN ABUNDANCE OF PEOPLE, is a passionate condemnation of a society that has lost all sense of solidarity with the less fortunate, pushing them to the margins as if they suffered from a contagious disease. This society, Radka Denemarková believes, is the breeding ground for ‘Kobolds’- "people who are highly intelligent but with zero emotional intelligence and zero social empathy. By manipulating others these people reach the top at lightning speed. My novel encompasses a plethora of themes, including totalitarianism.”

 2012 Spaci vady 212x300


A black comedy
Akropolis 2012


Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath represent two generations of outstanding women writers - both sought independence and struggled to reconcile their impulse to write with the countless pressures and constraints of their time and the ghosts of their own past; both ultimately took their own lives. In Radka Denemarková's play, they are thrown together in one room. As they look back on their lives as a whole, they cling on to their illusions. Much of the time they spend bickering over their respective qualities as writers and pocking cruelly into each other's past lives - with only occasional hints of empathy - until the protective façades with which each had surrounded herself, begin to crack.
Enter Ivana T. . She is the most obviously ficitionalized ot the three characters; the real Ivana Trump - glitzy Czech-born socialite, former athlete and fashion model - still being very much alive. In the play, Ivana is also a writer - although of a very different kind, working mostly through a ghostwriter. She is a tough, successful twenty-first century businesswoman, at home in the world of money and marketing. She turns the lives - or should one say afterlives - of her two unwilling roommates upside down.
Each of the three characters can leave the room, should her name be called by someone still living who loves them...

 2008 Smrt nebudes se bati aneb pribeh Petra Lebla 218x300


Documentary novel
Host 2008

Awarded with the Magnesia Litera 2008 prize for the best non-ficition.

KUD Police dubove - for 2018/9


 The book about Peter Lébl (1965-1999), on which the author worked for several years, is an attempt at the unique monograph of a theater director, stage desinger, actor, former director of the Na Zábradlí theater in Prague. At the same time it is an attempt to map the life of an unhappy young man and the times he lived in.

The book is not only a story of Lébls theatrical work - it captures the transformation of contemporary perception of theater and art in a wider context, it is also the chronicle of the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The times that catapulted Lébl into the lime-light. Denemarková asks however, if it was not just a "bubble" which appeared as uncompromising after the deslolate and ideologically formed years or whether something of his major controversial way of work has survived to this day. She puts forward the extreme thesis whether Lébls distinctive and elusive image he created of himself is not more remarkable than the work itself.



Literary fiction
Host, 2006
pp 248

Awarded with the Magnesia Litera prize 2006 for the best novel.

Európa 2009
ATUT 2008
DVA 2009
Women's Press Toronto 2009 (expired - rights available)
Modrijan 2010
Keller 2012
Elias Canetti 2013
Galaxia Gutenberg 2015
Aspekt 2017
Begemot 2016
Heliks 2018
Chinese simplified: Flower City Publishing - for 2020
Hena Com 2018
Exerpts published in Portuguese, Moldavian, Romanian


16-year-old Gita Lauschmannová, who grew up in a German-speaking, assimilated Jewish family in a Czech village, returns from a Nazi concentration camp at the end of the war.  Now an orphan, she hopes for a warm welcome but instead finds a hostile reception from her father’s former employees who have taken possession of her family’s property and moved into her family’s house. Denouncing her for speaking German and labelling her a Nazi, they put her through a terrifying ordeal. Gita only narrowly escaping being murdered, and is lumped together with the Germans being driven out of Czechoslovakia. She manages to escape again and makes her way to her only surviving relative, an aunt in Prague.

Following the end of communism, Gita Lauschmannová - now a retired doctor - returns to the village to seek justice and an apology. But again the locals, terrified that she wants to recover her long-lost property, close ranks against her.  Her only - unlikely - ally turns out to be the son of the family that had driven her out.

Is it possible to get justice for barbaric acts? Can old wrongs be righted? Gita is the victim of racist, anti-Semitic and political prejudice and collective guilt. "Money from Hitler" is a harrowing story infused with the power of a classical tragedy. It is a timeless story of persecution and expulsion, and the futility of the struggle for justice.  Radka Denemarková’s second novel won the Magnesia Litera for fiction, Czech Republic’s most prestigious literary prize, in 2007. A critically acclaimed play based on the novel was staged in 2010-2012 at Prague’s Svanda Theatre. The production stirred lively public debate on the highly sensitive subject of postwar expulsions and German-Czech-Jewish triangle.


Literary fiction
Druhé mešto, 2005
pp 178

Európa 2007
KUD Police dubove


Aging star theatre director Petr Buch returns to Prague after decades in German exile to stage a keenly anticipated new play by celebrated playwright Birgit Stadtherrová. As lines in the play reawaken painful memories from his past, Buch - whose father had been a feared secret police interrogator in the 1950s - is anxious to meet the writer and find out how she discovered his darkest secret.

Pragmatic theatre dramaturg Klamová uses every trick in the book to placate the increasingly impatient Buch and entice the neurotic Birgit out of her seclusion. She enlists the playwright’s self-sacrificing, sweet-natured stepsister Johanka but Birgit stubbornly refuses to come to the theatre, switching off her phone and reliving her traumatic childhood and abuse suffered at the hands of her cruel mother. Will the two protagonists ever meet? Will the ill-fated play ever open?

Radka Denemarková, herself a playwright who had also worked as dramaturg at the famous Theatre on the Balustrade in Prague, channels her own experience of the theatre to depict the agonies suffered by creative artists, debunk the cult of star directors and poke fun at petty rivalries among prima donna actors. Their shenanigans are juxtaposed with the painstaking work of hard-working staff behind the scenes whose empathy and patient diplomatic efforts gently steer the creative chaos to a triumphant opening night.