Alice Horáčková (b. 1980) is an alumna of Charles University’s Faculty of Social Sciences. While in school, she became the literary editor of the Czech leading daily Mladá Fronta Dnes and later conducted profile interviews for it. She spent a formative year in Berlin, then popularized science at the Czech Academy of Sciences. Her first book Vladimíra Čerepková (Argo, 2014), a literary biography of a forgotten Beat poetess, gathered a nomination for the Josef Škvorecký Award and the 2014 Magnesia Litera for Discovery of the Year. She followed it up with a book of interviews with siblings of famous Czechs, such as Václav Havel, Martina Navrátilová or Pavel Landovský, called 7x in a Supporting Role (Argo, 2016). Her third book was a confessional novel, Unopened Letters (Argo,2018), inspired by the true story of a widow of a famous, and very troubled artist.
June 2022, 576 pages
Available material: English sample, English synopsis, German sample
This novel is about poachers and free-spirited women, owners of fabric mills and lady Spiritists in a mountain village in the Sudetenland of the first half of the twentieth century. Czechs and Germans share beds in mixed marriages and argue about which nationality to declare in the census, who will build a new school first, and who killed a dog named Masaryk. Secret romances, army desertions, casual wrongs and name changes ultimately end up costing real lives. Inspired by the history of her own family, by rosy memories and blue memoirs, photographs, old newspapers and archival finds, the author weaves a grand family saga. Alternating between male and female voices and between the fabulous and the documentary, she fully recreates the world that her own relatives have lost. Some of her kin were expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of the war while others stayed. One of her uncles even befriended Reinhard Heydrich and “Aryanized” a Jewish textile factory.
“Alice Horáčková’s novel A House Divided is a suspenseful chronicle that takes your breath away. In Riesengebirge, Czech and German was spoken and the fates of families crossed, blended and collided. And all of that reverberates through this extraordinary book. Its title might evoke something broken, lost. But the reality of it is a complete opposite. Thanks to this extraordinary book, the broken past grows back into a whole again and gives us a three-dimensional and compact rendering of it.”
– Jaroslav Rudiš
“Inconspicuous, but grand and extraordinary – in the context of Czech literature decidedly so – story is related by Alice Horáčková in her new, voluminous novel A House Divided.”
– Irena Hejdová, Deník N
“First of all, A House Divided (…) is a totally captivating read, a grand family novel. If you were to read only one new Czech book, make it Alice Horáčková’s A House Divided.”
“The village novel A House Divided evokes the fate of a family, and the related stories of their neighbors and inhabitants of the Krkonoše Mountains, so suggestively that after completing the book my first question would be: Has anyone bought the film rights yet?
Alice Horáčková wrote a page-turner. She isn’t afraid of erotic scenes, even though at first they are a little tentative, as her heroines learn what it means to have a female body and to experience desire. And so after various embarrassing subterfuges we reach masterful descriptions of relationships free of hints, culminating with the relief-giving and direct: „Would you like to have a little fun with me?”
– Klára Kubíčková, Vlasta
“The novel is full of unusually human scenes and life paradoxes. The author tells her story in the form of a mosaic with the dynamics of a movie, keeping the reader in suspense until the very end. You read A House Divided with bated breath — this literary chronicle has a surprisingly contemporary feel. Human life is too fragile and too easily sacrificed by irresponsible politicians who strive to divide peoples that lived peacefully side by side for centuries.”
– František Cinger, Právo