The two haunting, poetic novellas that comprise The Bass Saxophonebrilliantly evoke the comedy and sadness of life under the Nazi and Soviet dictatorships. They are prefaced by a remarkable memoir of Skvorecky’s jazz-obsessed youth. Jazz is a symbol of freedom in both these novellas.
In Emoke, which is set in the shadow of the Communist regime, jazz becomes the means by which a jaded young man plots the seduction of a mysterious girl enmeshed in superstition and the occult. Spurned, but fascinated, he is drawn into her tortured existence until catapulted into the final bitter comedy.
In The Bass Saxophone a young Czechoslovakian student living under the rule of the Nazis is lured by his love of jazz – the “forbidden music” – into secretly and dangerously playing in a German band, with bizarre and unexpected results.
Written with the lyrical intensity of a great jazz performance, these two extraordinary novellas are among Skvorecky’s finest works.
About Josef Skvorecky
Josef Skvorecky is the winner of numerous literary prizes including the Governor General’s Award, the Order of Canada and the Order of the White Lion. He lives in Toronto.