Skvorecky, Josef

Skvorecky, Josef, Czech Josef Václav Škvorecký yōˈzĕf vätsˈläv shkvôrˈĕtskē [key], 1924–2012, Czech-born novelist, grad. Charles Univ., Prague (1951). Written in 1949, Skvorecky's first novel, The Cowards (1958; tr. 1970), was banned after its publication because of its ironic portrait of everyday life under Communist rule. In 1968, after the defeat of the Czech reform movement, Skvorecky immigrated to Canada, where he taught at the Univ. of Toronto (1971–91) and, with his wife, founded a Czech publishing house. His writing often focuses on the complexities of romantic love, played out against the hostile social backgrounds of Nazism and Communism. His alter ego character, the struggling and rebellious Danny Smiricky, appears in about half of his novels. Among his many works are The Emöke Legend (1963, tr. 1979), The Bass Saxophone: Two Novellas (1969, tr. 1978), Miss Silver's Past (1969, tr. 1975), The Engineer of Human Souls (1977, tr. 1984), Dvorak in Love (1986, tr. 1987), and The Bride of Texas (1992, tr. 1995). In Two Murders in My Double Life (2001), his first book written in English, Skvorecky combined an autobiographical novel with a murder mystery. Autobiographical themes are also pursued in the short stories of When Eve Was Naked (2002).

See his memoir, Headed for the Blues (1997); J. Kalish, Josef Skvorecky: A Checklist (1986); studies by S. Solecki, ed. (1994) and P. I. Trensky (1991 and 1995).

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