A Theory of Strangeness

October 2018, 360 pages

Available material: English sample, German sample, French sample

Rights sold: Poland (Stara szkola), Italy (Miraggi Edizioni), Bulgaria (Ergo), Macedonia (Makedonika Litera), Egypt (Al Kotob Khan), Spain (Reino de Cordelia), Slovenia (Sanje), Hungary (Metropolis Media), Romania (Editura Casa Cartii de Stiinta), Croatia (Hena), Serbia (Srebrno drvo)

The brilliant depiction of a young urban intellectual’s search for deeper meaning in life

At first glance, Ada Sabova may seem like a stereotypical urbanite. Disillusioned with relationships, the predictability of her life, and, most of all, her work at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Human Studies, Ada seeks amusement in noticing unusual, apparently coincidental details around her. She finds that these occurrences actually seem to follow certain patterns, coalescing in what she privately dubs “a theory of strangeness”. Ada’s growing obsession with locating a coworker’s missing son pushes her on a new path. Her neat, predictable life takes an unexpected turn.

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From the sample translation

“How often had I heard those words lately? How often had I said them myself? Is there a specific point in life when friends start parting with a “hang in there” rather than a simple “bye” or “take care”? Or was I simply so overwhelmed by my current misery that I saw trouble wherever I looked? Perhaps the notorious midlife crisis had decided to show up way before I’d actually managed to acquire all that wisdom and wealth that was supposed to come with middle age. You can act young and dress young, you can try to put off adulthood and all its obligations and commitments as hard as you can, but you can’t really trick time. My list of losses was constantly growing.”

“Someone once said that a great work of fiction astonishes the reader by the ability to express something, they’ve until now believed to be inexpressible – something at which Pavla Horáková excels.”


Theory of Strangeness is the product of great literary talent combined with a brilliant intellect and something we could perhaps call the feminine mystique. Pavla Horáková is a rare bird among contemporary Czech writers: educated, witty, sophisticated… and a little mysterious. Just like her new novel, Theory of Strangeness, which Echo magazine has called the decade’s smartest piece of Czech fiction.”

Echo Weekly

“The author has the uncanny ability to draw the reader in by describing seemingly random, trivial incidents and phenomena. At a second glance, we realize that these little pieces of trivia, delivered with extraordinary stylistic brilliance, take us straight to the book’s underlying message. With disarming irony and a naturally acerbic wit, Horáková manages to express things that anyone who has ever experienced moments of introspection will be intimately familiar with.”

–  David Lancz, Týdeník Instinkt

“Pavla Horáková has written a truly great novel. Theory of Strangeness is both sophisticated and bold, carefully structured, strangely alluring and soul-searching.”

–  Ondřej Horák, Playboy