Thomas Keneally was born in 1936 and raised in the rugged expanse of Australia. As a
young man, he planned to join the priesthood, but by 1960, on the verge of the Vietnam
War, Keneally found the church in such moral turmoil that he decided it was impossible
to go through with his ordination.
Keneally received his formal education in Sydney, Australia. Over the past 30 years, he
has published over 25 novels, more than a dozen screenplays, and several works of
non-fiction. These works include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The Playmaker,
Season in Purgatory, A Family Madness, and Woman of the Inner Sea. His work
has been nominated four times for the Booker Prize, which he won in 1982 for Schindler's
List. He won the Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction, The Miles Franklin Award, The
Critics Circle Award, and a Logie (Australian Emmy).
A self-described "literary biker," Keneally has traveled through Australia, Iceland, Antarctica,
America, Eastern Europe, roaming across genres and topics, often championing the underdog.
"I'm a writer who's always been hard to pin down," Keneally says, "because I've sometimes
written about things that are none of my concern -- like the American South or Antarctica or
Australian aboriginals or the Holocaust. I think I appeal to 'hells angels' kind of writers."
Keneally has modeled many of his characters after the traditional Australian hero -- the
"battler." "In America everyone admires successful men and women. In Australia, they
suspect them. The Australian hero is the person to whom everything has happened --
drought, fire, flood."
Oskar Schindler is a classic Keneally character -- conflicted and flawed, the antithesis of a
one-dimensional altruistic saint. And Schindler's story is a classic Keneally story -- an
ordinary man placed in a situation of enormous moral dilemma.
While researching Schindler's List, the author spent two years traveling to eight countries, where he interviewed many of Schindler's Jews and read the numerous testimonies which
are held at the Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority, Yad Vasbem, Israel.
Keneally lives in California where he teaches in the graduate writing program at the University of
California, Irvine, where he holds a Distinguished Professorship.
Reading Group Discussion Points
Other Books With Reading Group Guides
How the German Oskar Schindler came to save more than one thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust is one of the most fascinating stories of the century. Although millions are now learning about Schindler through Steven Spielberg's recent Academy AwardR-winning film, his achievement first gained prominence with Keneally's 1982 ``facticious'' novel (which is also the basis for the film). Keneally's account is less melodramatic than the motion picture, and although he does not fully explain how a hedonistic German could have been so altered by the plight of the Jewish workers in his factory, he does make Schindler less enigmatic than the big-screen version. Ben Kingsley, one of the film's stars, reads in a calculatedly matter-of-fact tone, letting the story's power alone convey its complicated emotions. Highly recommended.-Michael Adams, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Lib., Madison, N.J.
A mesmerizing novel based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German industralist who saved and succored more than 1000 Jews from the Nazis at enormous financial and emotional expense. (June)
"A truly heroic story of the war and, like the tree planted in Oskar Schindler's honor in Jerusalem, a fitting memorial to the fight of one individual against the horror of Nazism."--Simon Wiesenthal
"An extraordinary tale...no summary can adequately convey the strategems and reverses and sudden twists of fortune...A notable achievement."--New York Review of Books
"An astounding story...in this case the truth is far more powerful than anything the imagination could invent."--Newsweek