A sprawling account of plucky life under various dictatorships, and then in exile. Like the author, protagonist Danny Smiricky is a writer in exile, living and teaching in Canada after experiencing life under both the Nazis and the Communists. Also like him, Danny is bawdy, fun-loving, adores American jazz, and has a variety of comic and bitter adventures across many time zones and lands. Skvorecky's novels have a lot in common with those of his countryman Milan Kundera; progressing from fairly short, erotic, and light-hearted early tales to more ambitious works. This one takes its name from the words Stalin used to describe writers, and is his biggest, most autobiographical, and perhaps best.
This report prepared by David Loftus