Born 1933 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, experienced a desperately poor childhood as daughter of an unemployed publisher whose business went under during the Great Depression. Because of malnutrítion, Zdena was not admitted to basic school and spent two years in a boarding school for children of the desperately poor in Prague-Krč. In the forties, her father was briefly incarcerated by the Nazis.
After the Commnist coup in 1948, Zdena’s Father and her older brother were arrested, her mother lost her job and became unemployed. After his release in 1951, the father defected to the United States , the brother was sent to the uranium camps where he spent twelve years. Under these circumstances Zdena applied for admission to the Prague Conservatory of Music, Violin School but because of her family’s bad political record was turned down. She became a professional singer in the Statě Ensemble of Folk Song and Dance. Later she was and actress/singer in the famous Prague theatre The Magie Lantern, and afterwards in the musical theatre Paravan.
Eventually, due to the intervention by Milan Kundera, then a professor at the Film Academy (FÁMU), she was admitted to hat school where she studied seript writing and dramaturgy. But before graduation the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, and with her husband, she left for Canada. Her feature film seript Anna K. Feels Cold then in production was banned after her departure, in early 1970.
In Canada, Zdena founded the Sixty-Eight Publishers, Corp. and for over twenty years published banned Czech and Slovák books. Among her authors were Václav Havel, Milan Kundera, Pavel Kohout, Ludvík Vaculík, Arnošt Lustig, Josef Škvorecký and many others. She also published two Američan books banned in Czechoslovakia, Arthur Milleťs The Archbishop ‘s Ceiling and Philip RouYs Prague Orgy, and many other works of fíctíon, drama, poetry and non-fiction. Altogether 227 titles.
For this activity Zdena Salivarová was awarded the Order of the White Lion by the President of Czechoslovakia Václav Havel, and a honoráry doctorate from the University of Toronto. In 2006 she received the prize of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Gratias Agit for promoting the good name of the Czech Republic abroad.
For her novella Ashes, Ashes, AU Fall Down she received the prestigeous Egon Hostovský Literary Prize in 1976, and the novella was made into a TV film in Prague in 1992. Another novella of hers, The Darkness won the fírst prize in the International Novella Contest sponsored by the University of Utah. Her novel Summer in Pragiie (Honzlová) – in the opinion of several eritics and many readers – one of the very best Czech novels published after 1948 (the year of the Communist putch) – was translated into English, Castillian and Catalan.
Her lates novel Manure ofthe Earth (Hnůj země)was published in 1994.
With her husband, novelist Josef Škvorecký she wrote eight detective novels between 1999-2006. One of them, Encounter in Prague, with Murder is being fílmed in Prague in 2008.
She also translated from the French, among others Simenon’s Lesfreres Rico and Leo Malleťs Le Soleil nait derriere le Louvre. Zdena Salivarová lives with her husband in Toronto, ON, Canada.