A writer predominantly of children’s books, she also writes plays and fiction for adults. She publishes in Czech and in German, and her books have been published in translation in 15 countries. She is the recipient of many awards – five Golden Ribbons, two Magnesia Literas in the category of books for children and youth, as well as the most prestigious German award for children’s books, the Friedrich Gerstäcker Award. She was born in Olomouc on 13 June 1953 and is the daughter of the writer Jan Procházka.
After finishing her secondary-school studies Procházková was prevented from studying further due to political reasons. In the 1970s she could only publish sporadically and in 1983 she and her family emigrated to Austria and to Germany. She has written plays with her husband, the director Ivan Pokorný, and books for children and adults. Since returning to the Czech Republic in 1994 she has devoted herself to her writing
Her first book, Komu chybí kolečko? (Who is Missing a Wheel? Albatros, 1981) was published in 1981, while her next book, Výprava za zlatou rybičkou (Goldfish Expedition) was published by the company in exile, Sixty-Eight Publishers (1988).
She won her first Golden Ribbon for Čas tajných přání (The Season of Secret Wishes, Albatros, 1992) and the book also won the German Literature Prize for Children and Youth (1989), and it made it onto the 1989 List of Best Children’s Books in the USA. It tells the spring story of a girl called Kapka who moves home with her family to Prague’s Little Quarter. Although she suffers from the persecution which the Communist dictatorship inflicts upon her father, a sculptor, she is able to escape from her worries via a secret staircase which makes wishes come true.
There then followed the “whirlwind” of a book a year. Another Golden Ribbon came in 1996 for Pět minut před večeří (Five Minutes Before Dinner, Albatros, 1996). It is the story of a blind girl, Babeta, whose father tells her a story every day five minutes before dinner. It won the Austrian Prize for Children’s Literature (1993), the German Doctors’ Award (1993) and the North Rhine-Westphalia Literary Award (1994).
After another series of books (Hlavní výhra, Únos domů, Červenec nám chutná [The Main Victory, Home Kidnap, July Tastes Good to Us]) Procházková was awarded the Golden Ribbon in 1999 for Soví zpěv (Owl Song, Amulet, 1999), which also made it onto the International Honorary List IBBY 2000. Ten years before dystopian novels became fashionable, Procházková’s Owl Song tells the story of a seventeen-year-old boy from the year 2046, who, surrounded by alientating computer programmes, lacks human closeness and love.
There then followed Karolína (Caroline, Albatros, 1999), Jožin jede do Afriky (Joe Goes to Africa, Amulet, 2000) and Eliáš a babička z vajíčka (Elias and the Old Lady of the Egg, Albatros, 2002), and awards for the book Kryštofe neblbni a slez dolů (Don’t Be Silly, Christopher, and Climb Down! Albatros, 2004) and a Magnesia Litera (2007) for the story Myši patří do nebe (Mice Belong in Heaven, Albatros, 2006). In her brisk and humorous manner the author created a cycle in nature, whereby when the mouse becomes the fox’s prey, instead of fearing death the book embodies the hope of rebirth.
For her book Nazí (Naked, Paseka, 2009) Procházková was awarded the Magnesia Litera (2010) in the category of books for children and youth. The book tells the story of five adolescents and the humdrum as well as crucial moments in their lives. Lenka Secká wrote about the book for iLiteratura.cz that, “Thanks to the treatment of its subject matter this book has a special place in contemporary literary for children and youth. Iva Procházková is able to colourfully describe ordinary situations in life as well to penetrate into the inner lives of her characters, and thus convey her overall vision to readers.” The book was nominated twice for the German “Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis” literary prize.
These were followed by Uzly a pomeranče (Knots and Oranges, Albatros, 2011) about a boy growing up – a half-orphan who has taken on the responsibility of looking after his alcoholic father and sick sister.
One of Iva Procházková’s most important novels for adults is Tanec trosečníků (Dance of the Castaways, Mladá fronta, 2006), an anti-utopia set on Earth following a mysterious epidemic, with just Mojmír, a Romany boy, and a girl, Jessica, remaining. Otcové a bastardi (Fathers and Bastards, Paseka, 2007) is a Prague novel about relationships, Vraždy v kruhu (The Zodiac Murders, Paseka, 2014) is a detective novel which was turned into a series for Czech Television.