Born in 1969, Markéta Baňková is a writer and artist. The topics of her books are the mysteries of the natural sciences, which she approaches through fiction. Quantum mechanics, genetics, neuroscience and physics are presented in the everyday setting of interpersonal relationships, often incorporating black humour and a touch of the absurd.
Holding a degree in Fine Art (Printmaking and New Media) from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, Markéta Baňková provides her own illustrations to her books. In her work as an artist she crosses the boundaries of multiple genres. She experiments with these innovatively, most notably in the form of net-art.
A selection of titles
The Magpie in the Realm of Entropy. Physics fables from life. (Straka v říši entropie. Fyzikální bajky ze života)
Publisher: Petr Prchal publishing, 2010
A funny book of fables explaining the laws of physics to children and their parents.
The book received the renowned award Magnesia Litera Discovery of the Year in 2011.
In nine fables diverse animals puzzle over the riddles of existence and how the world works. Readers will find out why the hippopotamus floats on the surface of the water, why it is pointless to combat disorder and how to deal with a boozing badger. They also will read about the views of mice on quantum indeterminacy and how an alcoholic can blame a fall downstairs on curved space-time.
The book uses humour to explain classical laws of physics in a way that children will understand, but also touches on difficult concepts of modern physics geared more towards teenagers and adults. It is suitable for parents who read to their children but who also want something for themselves. It is also suitable for readers who have no interest in physics or are even afraid of it – they will enjoy the book as a comedy whose heroes discover philosophy along the path of science.
The book has been published in Poland in 2012.
The author has devised an original and engaging way of conveying a lot of key scientific ideas in
Professor Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal
Minutiae – Romance in the Time of Genetics (Maličkost – Romance z času genetiky)
Publisher: Argo, Prague, 2015
The book was awarded the Czech Book Prize in 2016.
In the novel the author combines prose with scientific themes which shape and illustrate the story. The topic is biology. Hidden under the mask of black humour is an examination of human identity, a puzzle which is especially pertinent with new discoveries in genetics and the associated question of free will. Are we slaves to our genetic makeup? Are our thoughts influenced by parasites? Or does the society we grow up in have the greatest influence? The main character, Tomáš, a genetics student raised by adoptive parents, is searching for his own roots. Science forms his worldview, but this lens can distort his personal, especially romantic, relationships.
Markéta Baňková has written a very readable book, in which instead of the smell of the city after rainfall, we can smell the soil bacteria washed up by rainwater and floating all around us.
Štěpán Kučera, Právo