A novelist, screenwriter, translator and dramaturge, she was born on 14 March 1968. She also translates from German, in particular plays and the work of Herta Müller. She is one of the most widely translated contemporary Czech authors and has been awarded the Magnesia Litera four times; for prose, Peníze od Hitlera (Money from Hitler), journalism, Smrt, nebudeš se báti aneb Příběh Petra Lébla (Thou Shalt Not Fear Death: The Story of Petr Lébl) and for translation, Rozhoupaný dech (The Hunger Angel). In addition to that, her novel Hodiny z olova (Hours of Lead) won the 2019 Magnesia Litera – Book of the Year award. In 2022, Radka Denemarková and her translator Eva Profousová won the (literary and translation) Brücke Berlin Preis for the novel Hodiny z olova (Hours of Lead) and its German translation published by Hoffmann und Campe Verlag.
Denemarková’s profile on her agent’s website can be found here. She made her debut as a dramturge at the Theatre on the Balustrade in 1998 with the monograph Evald Schorm – Sám sobě nepřítelem (Evald Schorm – An Enemy to Himself), she has worked freelance since 1994, publishing her first novel A já pořád kdo to tluče (The Devil by the Nose), a year later. The two central figures are a director, Petr Buch, and a writer, Brigit Stadtherr, both of whom are trying to come to terms with the past. The crucial question of What did your father do during the war? is only searched for figuratively in the consciousness, each of the secondary and main characters has their dark side. Here Denemarková is already beginning to play with momentous themes and twisted relationships, especially between a mother and her children.
Her successful first novel was then immediately followed a year later by the acclaimed novel Peníze od Hitlera (Money from Hitler), with the subtitle Letní mozaika (A Summer Mosaic), for which Denemarková was awarded the Magnesia Litera for prose. It is based on a dramatic paradox which is still relevant today: a sixteen-year-old Jewish girl, Gita Lauschmannová, returns from a concentration camp to her family village, her whole family has been killed. However, before the war they were rich landowners and spoke German, so in their home town of Puklice they were deemed to be German – therefore, according to the locals Gita has no claims to property or even to her life. It is a drastic, expressive, almost neurotically guided indictment of human wickedness. Peníze od Hitlera has been translated into 17 languages including English, German and Italian.
2011 saw the publication of the double-novel Kobold (The Elf), with its subtitle Přebytky něhy (Excessive Tenderness), which is again a jarring deconstruction of crippled relationships against a backdrop of historical events – while Judith, the family storyteller, is a reflection of the harsh history of the twentieth century, the story of Justýna in the second part takes place in the present, though its tragedy does not come from the wrongs of the war and communist totalitarianism. Once more we have here the motif of the relationship between mothers and children, a raw, almost simplistic carnality and pain, which is the unavoidable fate of the author’s characters.
Three years later Denemarková wrote the novel Příspěvek k dějinám radosti (A Contribution to the History of Joy), where she weaved a remarkable story of three women. Birgit Stadtherr appears again, and it is a kind of detective story, essay and mockingly comic accusation of the (mainly) male obsession with the female body. In the author’s previous books rape was not the main tragedy, but in this case it is at the book’s centre.
In addition to prose, Denemarková is equally important in the world of journalism, and her most widely acclaimed book is about the life and death of Petr Lébl, a prominent Czech theatre director with whom she worked at the Theatre on the Balustrade, and who committed suicide in 1999. The book won the Magnesia Litera in its category and was nominated for the Josef Škvorecký Award.
Denemarková publishes articles for the Czech and German media, including for Souvislosti, Tvar, Česká literatura, Respekt and Die Welt.