Iva Pekárková

Iva PekárkováIn her writing, Iva Pekárková explores cultural relationships—specifically, the compatibilities and clashes between different cultures and the synchronization of co-existing cultures. She dedicates some of her novels and vignettes to the relationships between European women and African men. She has a lot of personal experience in this field, as her partner of many years is a Nigerian some twelve years her junior.

Born in Prague in 1963, she cut short her studies of microbiology and virology and fled to the West in 1985. Via Austria, she migrated to the USA, where she lived mostly in New York, working as a taxi-driver. She also lived in Chicago, California and Arizona. In the late 1980s, she spent almost a year in Thailand teaching English in a refugee camp. She spent long periods in Canada, India, Malaysia and Nigeria, usually writing a travelogue based on her adventures. At the moment, she lives in a house share in south London, surrounded by Nigerians. The author of twenty titles does not shy away from writing about sex. Some of her works were published in translation into German and English.



A selection of titles

Gimme the Money (Dej mi ty prachy)

Mlada fronta, Prague, 2017
ISBN: 978-80-204-4377-9
296 pages

A city novel, dedicated to New York, which is depicted from the viewpoint of a female taxi driver. First published in 1996 in Czech, in 2000 in German and in English translation.

2017 the novel is being revived. It is new published in the Czech Republic and in Germany.

Rights sold: German, Spanish

Hail Gin’s taxi and take a seat for the ride of your life! Jindřiška/Gin is a New York cabbie, a struggling Czech immigrant alternately buoyed-up or battered by life in the guts of the great city. Though married to Talibe, a legal immigrant from West Africa, she lives with Gloria, a Cuban lesbian artist and tiny Josito, the baby of Gloria’s jailed friend. Through Alex, the Russian owner of the garage on 47th Street, Gin rents a succession of yellow taxis of dubious reliability and origin. Thus she meets a collection of characters: hookers, Lotharios, fraudsters, friends, lovers, hangers-on, and an architect who once dreamed of changing the skyline of Manhattan. “The gravity of big cities captures us,” writes Pekárková, “and when people let themselves be lured…their inevitable butt-falls can be made gentler only by their love for the City; for the unique and thorny planet.” Yet despite Gin’s philosophical musings, it’s all about the money: everybody needs it. Gin drives at all hours through the canyons of skyscrapers, along night streets that glisten with slithering rainbows of motor oil and rainwater, seeking fares, trying to save enough cash to pay the rent and to survive.

Pekárková’s eye for telling detail, her ironic humor, and her deft ear for dialogue helps to create a powerful tale with plenty of laughs, one that is rich in incident and comes in time to a shattering climax.

Click on the cover for the extract.

The She-Leopard (Levhartice)

Publisher: Mladá fronta, Praha, 2013
ISBN 978-80-204-3038-0
237 pages

The heroine of this novel is a Czech woman in her forties, suffering a deep personal crisis. Instead of staying in her homeland and succumbing to her depression, she decides to try and start again. When the reader meets her, she lives in London where she has chosen the best therapy for her wounded soul: sex, lots of it. While she experiments with all kinds of partners, nearly all of them seem to have one thing in common: they are black. The heroine, Milla, falls in love not just with her black men but with the black culture as well, often liking it and clinging to it more than black people themselves. Eventually, she finds her new home in an African expat family as a second wife to one of her lovers.

The horizontal tourism of The She-Leopard is better than all Shades of Gray.

Klára Kubíčková, idnes

Finally, the author wrote a book, which is not about pornography or eroticism, but about individuation—self-seeking and seeking one’s own place in the world.

Radim Kopáč, literary critic

pecena zebra obalka final

Roast Zebra (Pečená zebra)

Publisher: Mladá fronta, Praha, 2015
ISBN 978-80-204-3856-0
272 pages

In this novel Iva Pekárková writes about a modern-day phenomenon no-one has written about yet, 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. She sets the “big world out there” against the often small minds of both Czechs and Africans, breaking a few taboos.

The reader gets acquainted with five main white female characters: Veronika who steps from a tough childhood right into multiple motherhood; Jitka the top manager who, chasing her career, forgets that there are more things to life; the self-centered Rene whose carefree life of nightclubs, drugs and numerous boyfriends ends in big trouble; the sweet and shy Amálka, deeply disappointed in life; and the social scientist Marcela who wants to suck in every aspect of life on her planet. All these protagonists are based on real-life characters and they have 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.

Above this masterfully written narrative, there hovers a universal contrast of outlook on life and lifestyle in black-and-white. In the author’s rendition, the African man serves as a paradigm of life energy, strength and optimism, while the Euro-American white man wearily navigates the maze of his daily duties (which he doesn’t want to perform) and his rights (which he loudly demands). In Africa, life is a relentless struggle while in Europe or America, life is taken for granted. Blacks don’t worry about the future, they live to the max in the present; whites are bored, surrounded by luxury, safeness and securities, not wanting to understand their precarious nature.

 Radim Kopáč, iDNES.cz


Elephants at Dusk (Sloni v soumraku)

Publisher: Mladá fronta, Praha, 2016
ISBN: 978-80-204-4074-7
176 pages

The book tells the story of an unequal relationship between a young Senegalese man and an older Englishwoman. He wants a better life in Europe; she just wants someone to love her. Their relationship, problematic from the start, gradually crumbles, leaving them both desperate and hopeless. It might seem that Pekárková’s novel is just next in the line of unhappy love stories involving white women and African men; but in fact, it delves deep into the lives, souls, cultures, and beds of its protagonists, with an eye for the humorous and the absurd. Pekárková lightens up the sad story with fresh, witty language.