Writer, editor, translator and radio producer Paul Wilson Vic 6T3 was named the 2010 recipient of the Victoria College Distinguished Alumni Award. An English Language and Literature graduate, “Wilson’s work embodies Vic’s strong literary and arts tradition and it is wonderful to celebrate his accomplishments during Vic’s 175th anniversary” said Rita Schepok Vic 9T1, chair of the selection committee.
Following graduation, Wilson attended King’s College, University of London followed by ten years in The Czech Republic where he taught English. After being expelled by the Communist government in 1977 for his association with the dissident movement, and his role as a member of the rock band The Plastic People of the Universe, Wilson returned to Canada and actively promoted the work of dissident writers and musicians in the West. He has published over 20 books of translations of Czech literature, including major works by the former Czech president, Vaclav Havel, contemporary Czech novelists like Bohumil Hrabal, Ivan Klima, and Josef Skvorecky. His translation of Skvorecky’s masterpiece, The Engineer of Human Souls, won the Governor General’s Award for fiction in 1984.
Over the years, Wilson has contributed to many North American and European publications including The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Granta, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star, not to mention Acta Victoriana. He wrote and produced several major documentaries for CBC Radio and was a producer on CBC’s “The Arts Tonight”, “Morningside” and “This Morning”. He was a senior editor of Saturday Night, edited The National Post’s Review section from 2001-2003 and was a founding editor of The Walrus magazine. A book he co-authored about the takeover of a Moscow Theatre by Chechen Rebels in 2002 – called Fifty-seven Hours – is being workshopped as an opera by the National Theatre Company in London, England.
In 2009, Wilson was awarded the prestigious Gratias Agit prize by the Czech government in recognition of his contributions to Czech literature and culture abroad.