PAUL WILSON is a freelance writer, editor, radio producer and translator.
Born in Ontario and educated at the University of Toronto and King’s College, University of London, England, he spent ten years in Czechoslovakia (1967-1977) where he taught English and learned Czech. He was eventually expelled by the Communist government for his association with the dissident movement, particularly for his involvement with the underground music scene as a member of the legendary rock band, The Plastic People of the Universe.
On his return to Canada, he was active in promoting the work of dissident writers and musicians during the remaining years of totalitarianism. With Ivan Hartel, he founded a record company, called Bozi Mlyn, to publish the recorded music of The Plastic People and other Czech underground musicians. He also began writing for magazines and became a regular contributor to Shades, Books in Canada and The Idler magazine and was distinguished for his translations of Czech writers such as Josef Skvorecky, Vaclav Havel, Ivan Klima, and Bohumil Hrabal.
He has contributed essays, articles and reviews to many North American and European publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, the Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, the National Post. He was associate editor of The Idler magazine from 1988 to 1992, senior editor of Saturday Night magazine from 1998 to 2001, review editor of the National Post from 2001-2003, and he contributed to the founding of The Walrus magazine in 2003 as Deputy Editor and Editor until his resignation in 2004.
His translations are also familiar to readers of the New Yorker, Granta, Foreign Affairs, The New York Times and The New York Review of Books. His translation of The Engineer of Human Souls by Josef Skoverecky was awarded the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 1984, and his translation of Ivan Klima’s My Golden Trades was short-listed for the Independent newspaper’s International Translation Award in 1993.
He edited and translated the English edition of We Are Children Just The Same, an anthology of writing from an underground newspaper published by teenaged boys in the Nazi concentration camp at Terezin, which won the National Jewish Book Award in 1995. In the same year, he edited an acclaimed anthology of short stories Prague: A Traveller’s Literary Companion.
As a radio journalist, he has written and produced several major documentary series for CBC Radio, including, The Two Germanies (1986), and, with Gwynne Dyer, a seven-hour series on The Gorbachev Revolution (1989). He has worked as a producer on three CBC national radio shows, The Arts Tonight, Morningside, and This Morning, where he produced interviews for Shelagh Rogers, Eleanor Wachtel, Peter Gzowski, Avril Benoit, Michael Enright and others.
In 2001, he published his translation of Vaclav Havel’s play The Beggar’s Opera (Cornell University Press). He also translated the screenplay for the Anglo/Czech film Dark Blue World , written and directed by Academy Award winning Czech film makers, Jan and Zdenek Sverak, which premiered at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival.
He is currently (April, 2006) working on a new translation of The Memorandum, an early play by Vaclav Havel, and a translation of Havel’s latest book, a memoir of his experiences as president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. He is also working on a memoir of his own.
Paul Wilson now spends most of his time, with his wife and editorial assistant, Patricia, in Heathcote, Ontario, close to Georgian Bay where, when time allows, he sails his Herreschof H-28.
He and Patricia have three children: Jake, Miranda, and Gavin.