János Miska, writer, editor, literary historian, librarian, and a prominent figure of the Hungarian literary scene has passed away. He was also a member of the Friends of Hungary Foundation, publisher of our website, as well as our sister site, Ungarn Heute, and was awarded the Friend of Hungary Award.
An outstanding figure in post-1956 Canadian Hungarian literary life, died in Budapest at the age of 90 on Wednesday morning after a long and serious illness, film director Gábor Koltay, editor of the deceased’s books published in Hungary, told MTI on behalf of his family.
János Miska was born in 1932 in Nyírbéltek. He graduated from high school in Hajdúböszörmény in 1953, then studied comparative literature and journalism at ELTE. After the 1956 revolution, he interrupted his studies and left Hungary in 1957 to study at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. In 1961 he graduated in history and philosophy, and later in library studies.
He played a major role in the development and automation of libraries in Alberta and Central Canada, for which he received several government awards. He retired after 30 years but continued to work as a writer and editor in British Columbia.
In 2013, he was awarded the Order of Merit of Hungary for his outstanding achievements in the field of Hungarian culture and Hungarian studies in Canada, in recognition of his work in organizing Hungarian intellectual life in Canada and promoting national culture.
He has published more than 20 books and hundreds of articles promoting Hungarian literature, culture, and scientific achievements. He was awarded the title of honorary citizen of his hometown Nyírbéltek and honorary citizen of Hajdú-Bihar County and was a member of the public body of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and several other literary and scientific societies.
His most important works are:
- Celebration, 1910-1985: An annotated bibliography of Agriculture Canada (1985)
- From Canada with Love: Selected Writings 1975-1985 (“Kanadábol szeretettel: Válogatott írások 1975-1985) (1989)
- Ethnic and native Canadian literature (1990)
- Beyond the Bridge (“Túl a hídon”) (2011)
- From kerosene lamps to space travels. My life, my work. Selected writings (2012)
- Hungarian literature in Canada 1900-2010 (“Magyar irodalom Kanadában 1900-2010”) (2012)
- In the service of two countries. My life, my work. Selected writings (“Két haza szolgálatában. Életem, munkásságom. Válogatott írások”) (2013)
- I Am Going to Light a Torch. A Life Story. (“Megyek fáklyát gyújtani. Életregény”) (2016)
- Hungarian Canadians. A selection of writings with fond memories (2017)
- Sunshine in the rain (“Verőfény az esőben”) (2018)
In 2017, Hungarian director Gábor Koltay made a documentary film about his life entitled I Am Going to Light a Torch – The Story of János Miska (“Megyek fáklyát gyújtani – Miska János története”).
In 2022, he was one of those being awarded the Friend of Hungary award by the Friends of Hungary Foundation, publisher of our website, as well as our sister site, Ungarn Heute. Miska was also a member of the foundation, about which he said:
It was a great honor for me, when in Canada I received an invitation to join the Friends of Hungary Foundation. I have taken part in every conference (and have written about them in three Hungarian-Canadian publications as well!), and the programs discussing the uplifting achievements of Hungary and of Hungarians were a source of spiritual refreshment for me. The conference is one of a few events that fills me with real anticipation.”
Featured image: screen capture via YouTube