Tom Keneally Watch #8

Review of Schindler's Ark

"The Guardian" has been running a series of reviews of past Booker winners and recently it became Keneally's turn.

Keneally doesn't flinch from this horror. He has, in fact, an eye for detail that will break your heart. A suitcase out of which tumble "gold teeth still smeared with blood". A 10-year-old girl who "carried her terror unsupportably, the way adults will, unable to climb on to a parental chest and transfer the fear." A female prisoner who provides weekly manicures for a camp commandant. These sessions resemble the ones that she used to give in the Hotel Cracovia before the war, right down to the polite small talk. The only major difference is that the commandant always sits with a loaded revolver at his elbow. One day she asks why it is there. "In case you ever nick me," he tells her.

I could pick out any number of similar brushstrokes that show the repulsive darkness of the Holocaust. But the triumph of this book is that it also shows the light in its masterful portrait of Oskar Schindler.


After he wrote Schindler's Ark in the 1980s, Keneally sold a lot of his papers associated with the novel to a dealer.  Those papers were subsequently acquired by the State Library of NSW in 1996.  Just recently, while working her way through all the papers in the six boxes, a researcher came across a copy of the actual 13-page list compiled by Schindler.

Keneally has been mischievously been suggesting that current Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull should join the Labor Party, citing Billy Hughes as a precedent.

It should be hardly surprising that Keneally has made the list of the top 100 Irish-Australians.  He's there alongside Ned Kelly, Redmond Barry, Les Darcy and Fanny Durack.

The author has recently appeared at the Salisbury Writers Festival discussing classes for writers, amongst other things, after previously appearing at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival discussing Jane Austen, and also about sport, writing and just about anything else he could think of.


Keneally was interviewed by Luke Slattry for "The Australian" nespaper.  I reported on that interview here

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 27, 2009 2:45 PM.

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