“To my mind Josef Škvorecký is one of the finest living writers. His two short novels The Bass Saxophone and The Legend of Emöke I put in the same rank as James Joyce’s The Dead and the very best of Henry James’s shorter novels.”—Graham Green (WLT Vol. 54, Autumn 1980)
Josef Škvorecký (1924-2012) was a writer and publisher. After receiveing his PhD in Philosophy, Škvorecký began to write novels, which were banned by the Communist government in Czechoslovakia. Many of his works espoused democratic ideals that threatened the state of the government, but his novels helped to usher in the Prague Spring in 1968. When the Russian army invaded Czechoslovakia that same year, Škvorecký and his wife found asylum in Canada, where the pair founded a publishing house that emphasized the publication of banned Czech and Slovak books. Škvorecký remained in Canada for the remainder of his life.
In his Encomium speech in 1980, nominating author Arnošt Lustig praised Škvorecký saying, “Like Franz Kafka, Josef Škvorecký is a man who writes in a minor language and has become, in translation, the spokesman for the mind and soul of people in far greater numbers than the original language could have reached,” (WLT Vol. 54, Autumn 1980).
In his lifetime, Škvorecký published numerous works, including novels, novellas, essays, and screenplays. His novels include Zbabělci (1958; tr. The Cowards, 1970), Lvíče (1969; tr. Miss Silver’s Past, 1974), Tankový prapor (1969; tr. The Republic of Whores, 1992), and Příběh inženýra lidských duší (1977; tr. The Engineer of Human Souls, 1984).
1980 Neustadt Jurors and Finalists
|Luis Amorim de Sousa (Portugal)||Alberto de Lacerda (Portugal)|
|André Brink (South Africa)||Breyten Breytenbach (South Africa)|
|Claude Esteban (France)||Yves Bonnefoy (France)|
|Thomas Keneally (Australia)||Günter Grass (West Germany)|
|Yotaro Konaka (Japan)||Kim Chi Ha (South Korea)|
|Shiv K. Kumar (India)||Mulk Raj Anand (India)|
|Arnost Lustig (Czechoslovakia/USA)||Josef Škvorecký(Czechoslovakia/Canada)|
|Vasa D. Mihailovich (Yugoslavia/USA)||Miroslav Krleza (Yugoslavia)|
|Muriel Rukeyser (USA)||Kim Chi Ha (South Korea)|
|George Savidis (Greece)||Yannis Ritsos (Greece)|
|Alexander Scott (Scotland)||Norman Maccaig (Scotland)|