Cover image for The miracle game
The miracle game
Škvorecký, Josef, 1924-2012.
Uniform Title:
Mirákl. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : A.A. Knopf, 1990.
Physical Description:
436 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Mirakl.
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Author Notes

Josef Skvorecky was born in Nachod, Czechoslovakia on September 27, 1924. Under Nazi occupation, he was forced to work in an aircraft factory. He later read Philosophy at Charles University in Prague. He worked for the state publishing house, helping to translate books by Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler. He began to write detective stories featuring Lieutenant Boruvka, which became popular with Czech readers. In 1958, his novel The Cowards was published and then banned on the grounds that it was "Titoist and Zionist."

He and his wife moved to Canada after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia that crushed the liberal reforms known as the Prague Spring. They founded 68 Publishers in 1971, which released more than 200 books by exiled Czech authors and those banned by the communists. Skvorecky's other written works include Miss Silver's Past, The Engineer of Human Souls, and The Miracle Game. In 1980, he received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. He taught at the University of Toronto. He died on January 3, 2012 at the age of 87.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

This big, lush political novel spans 20 years of recent Czech history, culminating in the Prague Spring and the Russian invasion of 1968. Shortly after the war, Danny Smiricky, the cynical hero of Skvorecky's novel The Engineer of Human Souls , is present--although dozing--in a rural Bohemian church when a statue of St. Joseph moves on its pedestal, seemingly of its own volition. The Catholic clergy call it a miracle, but the Communist secret police conduct their own investigation. Alleging that the event was a fraud, they torture and murder the attending priest. In the more liberal political climate of the late '60s, Smiricky sets out to help a crusading journalist solve the mystery; the novel is loosely structured as a detective story, complete with clues and false trails. But Smiricky's real role is devil's advocate, standing aside from the unfolding drama of modern history--he refers to himself as a ``Good Soldier Svejk''--in order to comment on it. As a writer of well-received operettas, Smiricky has special access to the intellectuals involved in the Prague Spring uprising, and he takes amusing, nasty jibes at the real participants. Czech President Havel becomes ``the world-famous playwright Hejl'' who is already organizing for his future political party; the writer Bohumil Hrabal, also portrayed in an unflattering light, has been transformed into the ``gifted non-party novelist Nabal''; etc. Skvorecky's ambitious attempt to capture the spirit and feel of this turbulent era makes for fascinating reading. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved