Czech dissident writer and publisher Josef Skvorecky, who spent much of his life in Canada, died in Toronto on Tuesday, aged 87, CTK news agency reported.
Skvorecky, who published the works of many dissident authors from his native Czechoslovakia including books by the late Czech president Vaclav Havel, was the founder of Sixty-Eight Publishers which published many of the books by those banned by Czecholsovakia’s 1948-89 communist regime.
"He died last night at three in the morning," his wife Zdena Salivarova, a writer and actress, told CTK.
Skvorecky left Czechoslovakia for Canada shortly after Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops invaded his country in August 1968 to end the so-called Prague Spring reforms and restore Moscow’s dominance.
In his books he focused on the country’s occupation by Nazi Germany and life under communism. Skvorecky translated Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and James and also wrote detective stories and film scripts.
In Canada, Skvorecky taught American and English literature at the University of Toronto.
Thanks to Skvorecky and Salivarova, some 200 Czech and Slovak authors who had been banned by the communists could publish their books in the 1970s and 80s when dissidents’ works were only available as samizdat underground copies.
After Czechoslovakia’s 1989 Velvet Revolution Skvorecky and his wife were given the country’s highest distinction, the Order of the White Lion.