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.