A Contribution to the History of Joy

Radka Denemarková: Příspěvek k dějinám radosti. Host, Brno 2014.Original title: Příspěvek k dějinám radosti
Pages: 334
Year of publication: 2014
Published by: Host
ISBN: 978-80-7294-963-2
Buy the book: Host
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Roman noir set in the contemporary world.

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 to World War II.

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 women whenever and wherever it occurs.

Read an excerpt


2014 book mentioned in the Lidové noviny newspaper survey “Literary Event of the Year 2014

2015 nominated for the Czech Book Prize

2019 SPYCHER: LITERATURPREIS LEUK (Spycher: Literary Prize Leuk), Switzerland

From reviews

Three years after the formally experimental ‘double-novel’ “Kobold”, Radka Denemarková comes with the book “Contribution to the History of Jo””. The new novel at least confirms the high quality guarantee that Denemarková’s name provides. And it confirms the impression that she actually keeps writing the same story, though each time in a completely different way. The story of how we lose ourselves.Petr A. Bílek, Respekt

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Foreign editions

Excerpt in EnglishA Contribution to the History of Joy. Translated by Julia anad Peter Sherwood. The Guardian, 8. 3. 2016.