Josef Škvorecký (1924 -)

Škvorecký is one of the leading Czech prose fiction writers since the 1960’s. His debut-novel Zbabělci (The Cowards) (1958) was officially criticized as an attack on the interpretation of the liberation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Red Army at the end of the Second World War. In the 1960s, Škvorecký established a reputation as an editor, translator from English (especially Hemingway), and an enfant terrible of Czech literature. After the Warsaw Pact Invasion of 1968, he left Czechoslovakia for Canada where he taught literature and ran a publishing house Sixty-Eight Publishers in Toronto.

Škvorecký covers a wide spectrum of genres:

partially autobiographical tales and novels -- Prima sezóna (The Swell Season) (1975 in Toronto, 1990 in Prague) Konec nylonového věku(1967), Tankový prapor (The Republic of Whores) (1971 in Toronto, 1990 in Prague), Povídky tenorsaxofonisty(The Tenor Saxophonist’s Story) (1993 in Toronto);

sociological novels -- Lvíče (Miss Silver’s Past) (1969), Mirákl (The Miracle Game) (1972 in Toronto, 1991 in Prague);

psychological stories (Sedmiramenný svícen (1964), Legenda Emöke (1963);

detective stories (four books with Lieutenant Borůvka). Abroad he wrote his most ambitious novel Příběh inženýra lidských duší (The Engineer of Human Souls, 1977 in Toronto, 1992 in Prague);

and descriptive historical novels -- Scherzo capriccioso, (Dvorak in Love) (1984), Nevěsta z Texasu (The Bride from Texas) (1992).

Recently, Škvorecký reached a high acclaim with his postmodern mystification Nevysvětlitelný příběh aneb Vyprávění Questa Firma Sicula (1998). His collected works, including poetry, are now being published in the Czech Republic.

Škvorecký has been extensively translated into English. The English publications include his essays Talkin’ Moscow Blues. Because his texts are based on plot structure and strong visual aspects, more than 15 of his texts were made into movies and TV series.