The Engineer of Human Souls is a labyrinthine comic novel that investigates the journey and plight of novelist Danny Smiricky, a Czech immigrant to Canada. As the novel begins, he is a professor of American literature at a college in Toronto. Out of touch with his young students, and hounded by the Czech secret police, Danny is let loose to roam between past and present, adopting whatever identity that he chooses or has been imposed upon him by History. As adventuresome, episodic, bawdy, comic, and literary as any novel written in the past twenty-five years, The Engineer of Human Souls is worthy of the subtitle Skvorecky gave it: "An Entertainment on the Old Themes of Life, Women, Fate, Dreams, The Working Class, Secret Agents, Love and Death."
QUOTE: "It is a relief to read him, to know that there are still writers like him who have things to say that are vitally important for all of us. . . . What he writes about rivets the soul." (Alan Sillitoe)
QUOTE: "It is magnificent! . . . It marks an exceptional moment in history. . . . It is a magnum opus." (Milan Kundera)
"It is . . . so entertaining that it would be dangerous to read it without laughing aloud." (Los Angeles Times Book Review 7-1-84)
"Among its many other virtues, The Engineer of Human Souls is perhaps the funniest academic novel since Malcolm Bradbury's The History Man." (Newsweek 8-13-84)
"Josef Skvorecky is unquestionably an important writer, blending a great humorous talent with a restless, sustained, probing moral inquisitiveness. . . . The Engineer of Human Souls will certainly introduce the reader to the distinctive Skvorecky world." (Times Literary Supplement 3-8-85)
"[Skvorecky is] one of the major literary figures of our time . . . a novelist of the first rank . . . one of the masters of current Czech literature. . . . His novels are sad, funnyand utterly gripping." (The New Yorker 10-15-84)
"Skvorecky is so much of a writer that the moment he puts pen to paper, he can't help being an artist." (Paul West, Washington Post Book World 7-29-84)
"This powerful, moving, yet often hilarious novel is an example of cultural meditation at its best." (Library Journal, starred review, 7-84)
"[The Engineer of Human Souls] is a deep pleasure to read." (New York Times Book Review 8-19-84)
"By turns comic or sad and bitter, Skvorecky's book is a marvelous exploration of the human condition." (Booklist 11-1-84)
About the Author
Josef Skvorecky is the author of "The Cowards," "The Bass Saxophone," "The Engineer of Human Souls," and "Dvorak in Love," among other works. He is the winner of Canada's Governor General's Award. He and his wife, Zdena, divide their time between Toronto and Venice, Florida.