“Life always brings me topics to explore”

Presentation on Radka Denemarková by Ruth Fraňková, published in The Czech Books You Must Read series, Radio Prague International (24. 2. 2021).

Radka Denemarková is one of the most widely translated contemporary Czech authors. She has received Magnesia Litera Awards for prose, non-fiction and best translation and, most recently, Book of the Year, for her latest novel Hours of Lead. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages, winning numerous foreign prizes, and make her one of the most celebrated Czech contemporary writers.

The novel, for which she received her fourth Magnesia Litera Award, was published in 2018, and was inspired by her stays in China. Spanning over 700 pages, it took Denemarková five years to complete.  Here is how she described the novel for Radio Prague:

“It is not easy for me to explain what the novel is about, because, it is my life’s work, in which I addressed a number of issues, that have always interested me.

“In broad terms, it is a story of several families, generations and societies. For me personally it poses the question of how to capture the essence of an era in which I live, which I didn’t choose to live in, and which troubles me.

“It is essential for me because I think I opened topics which I think everyone is worried about, such as the nature of totalitarianism, authoritarian rule, and what it does to families and to the human soul.

“The book is simply a part of my life. I have never regarded literature as something separate from my life. In my case, life always brings me a topic to explore and in the case of this book, it was my stay in China.”

Read more / Play the podcast