When Eve Was Naked Stories of a Life's Journey

Josef Skvorecký




Trade Paperback

368 Pages


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When Eve was Naked: Stories of a Life's Journey is the most comprehensive collection of Josef Škvorecký's short fiction to date, and stands as a wonderful introduction to the work of a writer who has been internationally acknowledged for his passion, his wry humor, his insights into human and political frailty, and his inimitable style.

The stories run in a chronological sequence and form a semiautobiographical portrait of Škvorecký's own life. Many are narrated by Škvorecký's beloved fictional alter ego—the tenderhearted cynic Danny Smiricky—and they follow the sweep of the twentieth century, bearing witness to some of its most eventful and tragic times: from bitter-sweet memories of prewar Prague, to the brutality of the Nazi occupation and the terror of World War II, to the arrival of Russian tanks in Czechoslovakia and Škvorecký's enforced exile abroad.

In the title story, eight-year-old Danny falls in love for the first time with six-year-old Eve; at sixteen he watches his Jewish German teacher, Mr. Katz, herded onto a train with his family and taken away; later he witnesses a Communist putsch. While Škvorecký flees Czechoslovakia in 1968, Danny finds a new career for himself in Canada. The later stories in the collection examine the struggles of Danny—now a tenured professor at Edenville, a Canadian university—to understand his politically innocent and alarming self-centered students.

Masterfully written, humorous, and wise, When Ever Naked Naked is a remarkably revealing work of fiction.


Praise for When Eve Was Naked

"Lovely and devastating . . . The product of an unusual imaginative brilliance."—Daniel Halpern, National Post

"Strongly crafted . . . [Škvorecký's stories] swirl in a brew of joy and terror."—Michael Bryson, Quill & Quire

"Škvorecký is one of the great living writers. His intelligence is transcendent. His moral passion is large, inclusive, and finally, luminous."—Mark Strand

"Pick up Josef Škvorecký’s When Eve Was Naked and, I promise, you will be enriched, enlightened, entertained and more . . . I can’t say enough about the delights of this volume. It’s wise, it’s witty, it’s poignant, it’s wry."—The Washington Post

"The stories read to some extent like a diary, capturing an emotional landscape in lucid detail . . . A delight only Škvorecký could write."—The New York Times Book Review

"The twenty-four stories in this collection are bubbles in time, verbal dioramas depicting a benign quality (innocence, comfort, or just amiable confusion) destined for extinction. Refreshingly, Škvorecký . . . handles the heaviness of his material with a feather touch."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Some writers, and many great ones, remain in their books. They may devastate your feelings and change your ideas, but they stay in the pages . . . Josef Škvorecký, in contrast, settles in the imagination as an irresistible friend. Reading him, I often catch myself feeling impatient to sit down with him again (though we have never met) in the corner of the bar and listen to him laughing, telling stories, and making sense out of the callous disorder around us . . . The voice of his writing us usually sunny and joyful, the high spirits of Mozart or Sidney Bechet. The matter of his stories, however, can be very dark indeed."—Neil Ascherson, The New York Review of Books

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Josef Skvorecky is the author of The Bass Saxophone and The Engineer of Human Souls, among other works. He is the recipient of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and Canada’s Governor General’s Award. He lives in Toronto, Ontario, and Venice, Florida.
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  • Josef Skvorecký

  • Josef Škvorecký is the author of The Cowards, The Bass Saxophone, The Engineer of Human Souls, Dvorák in Love, and Two Murders in My Double Life, among other works. He has received numerous literary awards, including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and Canada's Governor General's Award for Fiction. He and his wife, Zdena, divide their time between Toronto, Ontario and Venice, Florida.