(Canadian, 1924– )
Born in the former Czechoslovakia, Josef Škvorecký is a highly respected novelist, translator, and screenplay writer. His work covers several genres ranging from crime/thriller fiction to novels about jazz and classical music. His writing reveals a refined political consciousness. His Danny Smiricky cycle parallels much of his own life. This includes The Engineer of Human Souls (1984)—a reference to Stalin's definition of a writer—in which novelist Danny moves to Canada. Set in an academic environment, it casts a despairing satirical look at contemporary politics but its subtitle—An Entertainment on the Old Themes of Life, Women, Fate, Dreams, the Working Class, Secret Agents, Love and Death—suggests its true range. The Miracle Game (1990) takes place in 1968 in Prague, examining the impact of Soviet invasion on the Czech psyche; the reader gets a sense of Škvorecký's abiding but clear-eyed love of his birthplace through these novels.
Milan Kundera, Ivan Klima TO