Pavla Horáková

Pavla Horáková (b. 1974) is a Prague-based author, radio journalist and literary translator. Her published works of fiction include a detective trilogy for young adults Tajemství Hrobaříků (The Secret of the Sexton Beetles, 2010, 2016), Hrobaříci v podzámčí (The Sexton Beetles under the Castle, 2011, 2016) and Hrobaříci a Hrobaři (The Sexton Beetles and the Gravediggers, 2012, 2018). In 2018 she co-authored the novella Johana (along with Alena Scheinostová and Zuzana Dostálová) and published her first novel for adults, Teorie podivnosti (A Theory of Strangeness). She has translated over 20 books from English and Serbian (including novels by Kurt Vonnegut, Saul Bellow and Iain Banks) and received two translation awards. In 2001 she joined Czech Radio as a reporter for its English section. She now has a regular show on Czech Radio’s arts & culture station Vltava for which she co-wrote and co-presented a 27-part series titled Polní pošta (Field Post), marking the centenary of WW1, featuring the memoirs, journals and correspondence of Czech soldiers. Along with her radio co-host Jiří Kamen, she has co-edited two books on the subject, titled Přišel befel od císaře pána (An Order Came Through from the Emperor, 2015) and Zum Befehl, pane lajtnant (Zum Befehl, Lieutenant, Sir, 2018).



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)

The brilliantly depicted young urban intellectual’s search for the deeper meaning of life.

At first glance, Ada Sabova may seem like the stereotypical, young urban intellectual. Disillusioned with relationships, the predictable pattern her life has taken, and most of all her work at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Human Studies, she finds amusement in noticing minor, apparently coincidental and unusual details around her, before realizing they actually follow certain patterns, resulting in something she privately dubs “a theory of strangeness”. Ada’s growing obsession with the search for a coworker’s missing son pushes her on a new path – and her neat, predictable life suddenly takes quite an unexpected turn.

“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.”


A 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, A 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 self-introspection will be intimately familiar with.”

–  David Lancz, Týdeník Instinkt

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

–  Ondřej Horák, Playboy

“A mature, seemingly straightforward text… Presented as a simple detective story, it gradually reveals more and more layers, exploring the state of today’s world… Simply unputdownable.”

– Karel Kouba, A2LARM

Top Czech Literary Award

Magnesia Litera (2019)

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.”

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Download French sample