Josef Škvorecký’s library to open in his home-town of Náchod

The private library of the late Czech writer, translator and publisher Josef Škvorecký will soon open to the public in his home town of Náchod in north Bohemia. The town hall acquired the library and other items from Škvorecký’s family in Toronto, where the famous writer settled with his wife after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Thousands of books, but also dozens of music records are part of an extensive collection that used to belong to the famous Czech émigré writer, translator and co-founder of '68 Publishers Josef Škvorecký. The items will soon become available to the public in his home town of Náchod.

Josef Škvorecký | Photo: Česká televize

Škvorecký, renowned for such works as The Cowards and The Engineer of Human Souls, was one of the most popular Czech writers of the second half of the 20th century. He left Czechoslovakia with his wife Zdena Salivarová after the Soviet-led invasion in 1968 that crushed the Prague Spring reform movement.

Together, they founded '68 Publishers in Toronto in 1971, publishing Czech and Slovak books banned in his homeland, including works by Milan Kundera and Václav Havel, who later became Czechoslovak and then Czech president. Mr Škvorecký's own work was also banned by the communist regime.

Photo: Česká televize

The popular writer died in Canada in January 2012 at the age of 87. A few years later, his wife Zdena Salivarová, who is also a writer, decided to donate his private library to the town where he was born, and which also features in his novels The Swell Season and The Cowards. Nina Adlof is the spokeswoman for the Náchod Town Hall:

Photo: Česká televize

“We received approximately 1,600 titles from Josef Škvorecký’s private library in Toronto. There are his own books in Czech and other languages, books by his popular authors and also books published by the ’68 Publishers.

“Apart from books, we also acquired records featuring his beloved jazz and blues, but also paintings, awards and collection of photos from the shooting of films and series based on Škvorecký’s novels.”

The books were transferred from Toronto to Náchod back in 2017, but at the time the town didn’t have a suitable venue to exhibit the extensive collection, says Nina Adlof:

Nina Adlof | Photo: Česká televize

“That place will be the newly constructed Cultural Centre in the centre of the town, which is one of our biggest projects in recent years. Its opening coincides with the 100th anniversary of Škvorecký’s birth, which falls on this year. Apart from his private library, it will also feature a copy of Škvorecký’s study in Toronto.”

The arts centre featuring a permanent exhibition dedicated to Josef Škvorecký will open to the public on May 1. That day will also see the launch of the 25th edition of the annual Swell Season festival, a student festival inspired by the works of the famous writer.

Author: Ruth Fraňková | Source: Česká televize
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