Pekárková studied microbiology in the Czech Republic but emigrated in 1983 shortly before she graduated. She travelled to the United States, where she had a number of jobs, including bartending, social work and taxi driving in New York City. In 1997 she returned to Prague, but then left again in 2005, this time to London. “Her move into exile gave rise to the major themes in the author’s work: the position and perspective of a foreigner, a person’s ‘multiple’ identities after leaving home, and the fundamental need to understand ‘the other’ (person, town, country, culture, events),” was how academic Vladimír Novotný characterized Pekárková’s work, which has been translated into English and German.
Czech literature has very few voices covering multicultural topics based on extensive experience. What we value most in Roast Zebra is its insight and skilful writing; Pekárková wants to communicate a message. Her prose is succinct, witty, impartial, she writes with a light hand. In this novel she writes about a modern-day phenomenon no-one has yet written about, that is, ‘black-and-white’ relationships within the Czech Republic. She knows what’s going on in Prague streets and nightclubs as well as in sleepy Czech towns whose inhabitants may never have seen a ‘live’ black man. All of her protagonists are based on real-life characters with one thing in common: their partners of choice are black. In dashes of black and white, as well as many other colours, Iva Pekárková describes their destinies with both depth and humour.
“It’s as if Pekárková wrote with her body, her own senses, instinctively. Her writing is full-blooded, mighty.”
— Radim Kopáč, MF Dnes