The Engineer of Human Souls

The Engineer of Human Souls

Author
Josef Skvorecky, Patricia M. Wilson
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  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 571
  • Publication date: 1986
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Weight: 0.52 kg Note that the actual book cover may differ from the picture

As Cabrera Infante has lately done with Cubans, and Salman Rushdie with Pakistanis, so does Skvorecky with Czechs in this enormously disillusioned, constantly readable, and buoyantly happy/sad novel: a picture of temporary nationalism (embodied in this case by immigrants) that captures the particular genius of a people who've come through terrible history with the help of luminous personal gaiety. The protagonist of Skvorecky's book is Daniel Smiricky - like his creator a Czech-immigrant novelist who fled his homeland after the Russian 1968 invasion and who now teaches English literature at a Toronto university. Is this closeness of author and hero a distraction? No - because Skvorecky has more important things to do than put a lot of elaborate distance between himself and his alter-ego.