Martin Vopěnka


The Jewish-Czech writer, traveller and publisher is the author of 16 books for adults and children. Born in 1963, Vopěnka studied nuclear and physical engineering in Prague. However, ever since his childhood, he has been more attracted by literature. So he started writing at an early age and has never stopped. Since the end of the communist regime he has devoted himself exclusively to publishing books and to his own writing. The author not only draws from his study of mathematics and physics, but also from his extensive travels, including Chile, Argentina, Iceland and the Antarctic. His main interest is the fate and future of human civilization. He lives in Prague with his wife Anna and four children.



A selection of titles


My Brother the Messiah (Můj bratr Mesiáš)

Publisher: Mlada fronta, Prague, 2017
ISBN 978-80-204-4391-5
269 pages

If in the near future a new Messiah were to appear in the middle of Europe, would people accept him? And would it prove possible to establish a new religion?

It is 2096, and a state of drought has obtained for many years. The bed of the River Vltava has dried up. But hope exists thanks to a scientific project that fends off the sun’s rays in the stratosphere. Eli is born in the Prague district of Holešovice as the first rain is falling.

It is 2168, and Marek, Eli’s elder brother, is in a Greek settlement close to Mount Olympus, preaching to survivors of the worst exodus in human history. At this point, only a staunch handful believe that martyred Eli was the Messiah.

The latest novel by Czech writer and visionary Martin Vopěnka has the highest ambitions. Plausibly and with great sensitivity for the psychology of his characters, the author shows how much pain, love, hate, doubt and hope one life can bring, when its subject appears capable of emulating the role in human history played by Jesus. In the opinion of the author, although Jesus was not a miracle worker, the mere fact that his legacy has survived to the present day is a miracle in itself.

Vopěnka has yet again produced a book that explores many pressing issues of the near future. Highly readable, beautiful and terrifying at the same time, it presents to us a future that may not be as distant as it may seem at first sight.

Eliška Prokopová, iLiteratura


My Journey to Getting Lost. Travelling with Benjamin (Moje cesta do ztracena – putování s Benjaminem)

Publisher: Mladá fronta, Prague, 2005
ISBN 80-204-1192-5
232 pages

Rights sold: Romanian, Polish, Italian, German

After their wife and mother has died, a father and his 8-year-old son set out on a journey across Southern and South-Eastern Europe in search of a new life. What has originally been intended as a holiday adventure turns into a fateful journey.

“I have lived. Who can say that about themself?” This is how the narrator and main character David assesses his life at the end of the novel. It is the story of a man who lacks fulfillment despite his relative wealth. After the death of his wife he suddenly finds himself alone with his eight-year-old son Benjamin. In order to face the task ahead of him, he decides that he will have to make significant changes. He and Benjamin set off on a holiday trip together — a journey to getting lost. The novel is a part personal, part travel diary. Describing father and son’s adventures on the backdrop of several European countries (Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania), it offers insight into the human soul.

It may not happen very often, but sometimes we are fortunate enough to come across a book that touches something vital deep inside us. I am not talking about high drama or wildly exciting stories which are virtually bound to move us. What I mean is the special kind of touch that happens when the book we read reaches out to something that is already within us, or when its themes tug at some especially sensitive string inside. It is a very personal, intimate contact with literature: something that is exclusively ours. Until recently, the last book to have had this kind of effect was Michel Houellebecq’s The Elementary Particles. Nearly twenty years later, the same has happened to me with Czech author Martin Vopěnka, previously completely unknown to me.

Mikołaj Marszycki, Polish journalist and literary critic


A Girl and a Soul. Tales from the Mountains (O duši a dívce. Pohádky z hor)

Publisher: Mladá fronta, Praha, 2016
Illustrations: Iku Dekune
ISBN: 978-80-204-4219-2
144 pages

Fourteen contemporary fairy tales set in the heart of the mountains that feature such protagonists as a conceited raven, a timid marmot, querulous mice, a lonely wolf, and an unhappy bear. The animal characters often display human traits and interact like humans. Other stories offer philosophical reflections on the meaning of life (Sister Death, Brother Life).

Tales from the Mountains teach us humility in the face of nature’s forces, and encourage us to protect the environment. The book is intended for children over 9 years, but will captivate both children and parents alike. The authors follows the age-long tradition of telling fairy tales as primal, deeply meaningful stories for readers of any age.

The book becomes a truly magical artifact thanks to the illustrations of Japanese artist Iku Dekune, who currently lives in Prague.
A selection of eight fairytales has been translated into English and published in the Philippines in 2016.

The story Sister Death has taken my breath away. Death has always been pictured as on a travel, collecting bodies and releasing the soul. In the mind and magic of Martin Vopěnka, Death has become a nurturing big sister, solicitous now, softly mocking next. She is the gentlest soul in the universe and when she touches people and animals, she seems to give life to them…
Martin Vopěnka says for those who hide from Death, they see only darkness. For those who face Death, they see through her face and witness Eternity.

Tito Genova Valiente, Business Mirror

Click on the cover for the extract.

New Planet (Nová Planeta)

An ancient story from the distant future

Publisher: Mladá fronta, 2015
ISBN 978-80-
623 pages

The book has won the 2016 Golden Ribbon, a Czech award, in the young adult fiction category.

In 2016 the book was included in the White Raven catalogue of notable titles deserving worldwide attention, selected by language specialists at the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany.

The main character of this sci-fi novel is twelve-year-old Daniel, growing up in a technically advanced, but fully isolated civilization, which is called New Planet. This dehumanized society is divided into two groups: those who are privileged and those who are not. They pretend to have left Earth, but in reality they have only built an impenetrable wall around themselves. The privileged Daniel loves his three step-brothers without knowing they hate him. Due to their betrayal, one day he finds himself lying on a heap of corpses on the other side of the wall. There is no way back, so he has to fight for survival in the underdeveloped world outside. Soon he discovers the terrifying foundations the civilization of the New Planet has been built on.

It is no coincidence that Daniel’s fate is reminiscent of the biblical story of Josef, who was sold to Egypt by his stepbrothers. Like Josef, Daniel becomes responsible for the lives of many people. How will he tackle his extraordinary destiny? Martin Vopěnka sets an archetypal, biblical story of love and betrayal in a distant future.


Vopěnka has created a work which matches the global best-sellers of the young adult genre.

Stanislav Šulc, E15


Click on the cover for the extract.

The Fifth Dimension (Pátý rozměr)

Publisher: Kniha Zlín, 2009
ISBN 978-80-87162-44-6
290 pages

After the collapse of his successful business, the Czech entrepreneur Jakub decides to take part in a secret American research project. He is required to spend almost a year in absolute solitude, without knowing why. Therefore he leaves his wife and his children behind and finds himself in a deserted area of the Andes, somewhere between Chile and Argentina. Amidst the magnificent landscape his only companion is a book about astrophysics. The lonely hero has plenty of time to reflect on the universe, its origins, its meaning and its dimensions. If time is the fourth dimension, what could be the fifth one? Perhaps thought itself? As the hero is unexpectedly confronted with a crime, he can test his own newly developed theory. Will it change human history? Or will it be a secret forever, hidden in the mountains?

The title has been published in the U.K.

 With this author, we have one rock-solid guarantee: he benefits from extremes. From the extremes of the wastelands, mountainous deserts or the Arctic, also from the wastelands of the human soul, those often unhealed dark rooms, where knowledge borders on the confusion of the spirit.

Jáchym Topol, Lidové noviny


 The Fifth Dimension is a weighty and at times challenging read, its themes nothing less than life, death, the universe and love. It’s absorbing, haunting and intellectually engaging throughout, with a gut-punch dénouement.

James Lovegrove, Financial Times




Sleeping City – Sleeping Justice – Sleeping Secret

A trilogy for children written in three different genres: sci-fi, crime thriller and fantasy.

Age: 9-12

Sleeping City (Spící město)

Publisher: Fragment, Praha, 2011
ISBN 978-80-
270 pages

Rights sold: Egyptian

In the first part of his trilogy Martin Vopěnka depicts a dangerous world in which children have to struggle for survival on their own. This is because all parents have fallen into a mysterious sleep. However this is not all. The electricity stops working, there is no running water and street gangs are wreaking havoc in the city. Four siblings between the ages of six and fifteen fight for their lives.



Sleeping Justice (Spící spravedlnost)

Publisher: Fragment, Praha, 2012
ISBN 978-80-
261 pages

Now some of the parents have already woken up. They cannot understand, what was going on while they were asleep. Additionally the government institutions don’t really function. Only the children are left to enforce justice, hunting the criminals and punishing them.

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Sleeping Secret (Spící tajemství)

Publisher: Fragment, Praha, 2013
ISBN 978-80-
233 pages

In their last adventure the four siblings are searching for the reason why the parents fell asleep. Ultimately they are searching for the truth. Through the sleep of the parents the children manage to enter the world of beyond, where some mysteries of life are revealed to them.