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(12/14/2014) Talkin' Moscow Blues by Josef Skvorecky. New York. 1990. Ecco Press. paperback. 367 pages. January 1990. Cover: David Montle. Paperback Original. keywords: Essays Translated Czech Eastern Europe Literature. 0880012315.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

 Josef Skvorecky’s novels have established him as a major author around the world, but his less well known essays include some of his most stimulating writing. TALKIN’ MOSCOW BLUES is the first-ever collection of Skvorecky’s essays, reviews, and interviews. Here are deeply personal stories about the friends and events that have shaped his beliefs and his writing: thoughtful examinations of the nature of art, politics, and freedom; reviews of writers such as Faulkner and Kafka, and filmmakers Jiri Menzel and Francis Coppola. And sprinkled throughout are Skvorecky’s lively commentaries on the foibles of both East and West. Skvorecky has lived under the spectrum of political regimes – from the rightist oppression of the Nazis to the leftist oppression of the Soviets – and he has resisted the influence of both sides. As a amateur musician in Czechoslovakia he slipped ‘verboten’ lyrics past the Nazi censor and played ‘degenerate’ jazz with a lookout at the door; as a lifelong film devotee and friend of top filmmakers he saw scripts written and rewritten to match the ebb and flow of party politics; as a writer he had his first major work, THE COWARDS, banned and confiscated by the authorities. As a Czech he is exiled for life, but as a Canadian he has found freedom to express his thoughts and opinions, both in fiction and non-fiction. Josef Skvorecky won the 1980 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and the 1984 Governor General’s Award for THE ENGINEER OF HUMAN SOULS.

 

 Josef Škvorecký (September 27, 1924 – January 3, 2012) was a Czech-Canadian writer and publisher who spent much of his life in Canada. SKVORECKY was born in Bohemia, emigrated to Canada in 1968, and was for many years a professor of English at Erindale College, University of Toronto. He and his wife, the novelist Zdena Salivarova, ran a Czech-language publishing house, Sixty-Eight Publishers, in Toronto, and were long-time supporters of Czech dissident writers before the fall of communism in that country. Skvorecky’s novels include THE COWARDS, MISS SILVER’S PAST, THE BASS SAXOPHONE, THE ENGINEER OF HUMAN SOULS, and DVORAK IN LOVE. He was the winner of the 1980 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1984 Governor General’s Award for fiction in Canada. Škvorecký's fiction deals with several themes: the horrors of totalitarianism and repression, the expatriate experience, and the miracle of jazz.

 

 

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