Hrabal worked as a lawyer, clerk, railwayman, traveling salesman, steelworker, and laborer before turning to literature in 1962. In his tragic-comic novels and short stories he concentrates on the everyday lives of ordinary people. Thomas Lask says, "Hrabal shows an offbeat, original mind, a fey imagination and a sure hand in constructing his tales" (N.Y. Times Bk. Review). Hrabal's novel Closely Watched Trains (1965) was made into an internationally successful movie.
Edith Pargeter was born in Horsehay, Shropshire. She was a chemist's assistant from 1933 to 1940 and participated during World War II in the Women's Royal Navy Service. She adopted the pseudonym "Ellis Peters" to clearly mark a division between her mystery stories and her other work. Her brother was Ellis and Petra was a friend from Czechoslovakia, thus the name. She came to writing mysteries, she says, "after half a lifetime of novel-writing." Her detective fiction features well-rounded, knowledgeable characters with whom the reader can empathize. Pargeter started writing seriously for publication while gathering useful information on medicines that she would draw upon later when tackling crime stories. Her first published novel was Hortensius, friend of Nero (1936), a rather dry tale of martyrdom that was not a great success but she persevered and The City Lies Foursquare (1939) was much more warmly received. Her most famous literary creation is the medieval monk Brother Cadfael. Peters received the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award in 1963 and the Crime Writers Association's Silver Dagger Award in 1981.
One of the foremost Czech writers of the postwar generation, Skvorecky is the author of five novels and many filmscripts and the translator into Czech of William Faulkner (see Vol. 1), Ernest Hemingway (see Vol. 1), and Dashiell Hammett (see Vol. 1). His first novel, The Cowards (1958), took an unorthodox look at the events of May 1945 when Czechoslovakia was liberated from the Nazis. The novel was, in its author's words, a succes scandale. In spite of a ban by the party, The Cowards circulated underground and exerted a powerful influence on young Czech writers before the political thaw set in. Miss Silver's Past was the last of his books to appear in Czechoslovakia, where it was published in 1969. The Tank Corps, which should have appeared the same year, was banned. Skvorecky left Czechoslovakia in 1968 and now teaches at the University of Toronto.He also publishes books of Czech emigre writers. In 1980 he received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.