Translator of Literary Works
John Miska is a
librarian by profession, but he is also known for his books of
stories, essays, anthologies and translations published in
Hungarian and English. His three-volume bibliography,
Canadian Studies on Hungarians, is a major source of
information in Canadian Hungarology. His other bibliography,
Ethnic and Native Canadian Literature, published by the
University of Toronto Press in 1990, is one of
the most comprehensive works on the subject.
He was born in 1932 in Nyírbéltek, Hungary and received
his elementary education in his hometown. In 1953 he
graduated from the Bocskai István Secondary School in Hajdúböszörmény, and
continued his studies at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest (ELTE),
majoring in comparative literature and journalism. His
studies were disrupted by the defeat of the 1956 Revolution.
He escaped the country and arrived in Canada in 1957 and continued
his education at McMaster University, Hamilton, majoring in History and Philosophy, graduating in 1961.
Also attended the University of Toronto Library School and
graduated in 1962.
He held positions at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, as
head of the Engineering Library, and worked for 25 years
for Agriculture Canada in Ottawa, as head of the Acquisitions
Department, and area coordinator and regional director of
libraries in Alberta and Central Canada, respectively. He was
involved in converting the traditional manual library
practices to automated systems. He has published 22
book-length bibliographies in the fields of the
agricultural sciences and the humanities. After serving the profession for 30 years,
John took early retirement, relocated to Victoria, B.C. in 1992,
and has lived there with his wife, Marie, ever since.
In addition to his professional work, over the years he has retained contact
with literature and Hungarian studies.
Founder of the Hungarian-Canadian Authors’ Association, he is
regarded as one of the prime movers of Hungarian literature
in Canada. He has published a series of anthologies, and
authored some essays on the accomplishments of
Hungarian-Canadian research scientists, scholars, artists
and writers. His collections of stories, literary studies and
essays appear in chronological order under the Bibliography menu on this
For his literary and professional accomplishments John has
received numerous acknowledgements, including more than a
dozen grants from such institutions as the University of
Manitoba, the Secretary of State (Heritage Canada), and the
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The latter
was in the amount of $75,000 that assisted him in the
compilation of the ethnic and native Canadian bibliography.
He is also a recepient of several awards, including the
Queen’s Jubilee Medal (1977), an Alberta Achievement Award
for Excellence in Literature (1978), and a silver and gold
medal from the Cleveland-based Árpád Academy, for his books
of stories and essays. Perhaps the highest honour received
was in 2004, when he was inducted into the Hungarian Academy
of Sciences. In 2005 his hometown named him an honorary citizen.
In his retirement he has edited for five years the
Vancouver-based monthly periodical Tárogató. He has also
edited the bi-monthly paper Szigeti Magyarság and is at work
on a biographical novel, The Way We Lived.
update to John's work and accomplisments, 2011 has been
a decisive year in his life. After the passing of his
wife, Marie, he took solace in writing. He wrote
stories, essays, literary monographs and memoirs,
publishing them, along with earlier works, in five
collections, four in Hungarian, one, his book-length
memoirs, in English. They are listed on this website
under Bibliography. In 2012, he married Elizabeth, a
widow in Budapest. The couple spends half a year in
Victoria and a half year in Budapest.
has been well received in his native Hungary. He has
been a frequent speaker at universities and conferences.
He autographed his books at national and regional book
fairs, and gave interviews to the media and film
producers on Hungarian-Canadian literature and other
aspects of Hungarian-Canadian social and cultural life
from 1886 to the present. He has been regarded as an
ambassador to two nations. The Canadian Embassy in
Budapest organized a literary afternoon (2012),
honouring John for serving Hungary and Canada as an
author and bibliographer. Further honours succeeded. The
Mayor of the city of Hajdúböszörmény, His Worship Attila
Kiss, declared John a Distinguised Citizen (2013). The
same year, the President of Hungary, The Hon. János
Áder, honoured him with the Officer's Cross of the Order
of Merit of Hungary. The Canadian Chancellery consented
to his wearing of that distinct medal.