Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Books & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Ke-Ma)

Keneally, Thomas

convict schindler story settlement

(Australian, 1935– )

Keneally is a prolific and versatile novelist who has fictionalized a number of key historical moments. Begin with his Booker Prize-winning Schindler's Ark (1982), which was filmed by Spielberg as Schindler's List. The real Oskar Schindler saved a number of Jews from the Nazi death camps by employing them in his Polish factory; Keneally researched the story and wrote it as a novel, exploring the nature of a man who has high-ranking Nazi friends and is making great profits from the war, yet who will do all in his power to protect his Jewish workforce. Move on to The Playmaker (1987). Set in the first year of the convict settlement in Australia, and based on the real convict production of Farquhar's play The Recruiting Officer, this focuses on Lt. Ralph Clarke and his affair with a convict woman. Drawing on letters and diaries from 1788, Keneally brings the first settlement to life, particularly the criminal underworld and the difficult relations between officers. Among his other Australian novels, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972, filmed 1978) stands out for its unflinching depiction of the white hypocrisy and cruelty meted out to an innocent hardworking Aboriginal boy in the years around 1900; and Flying Hero Class (1991) is interesting on the complexities of more recent white–Aboriginal relations, telling the story of the hijack of a plane bearing an internationally famous troupe of Aboriginal dancers.

Barry Unsworth, William Boyd, Peter Carey, Brian Moore. See AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND, HISTORICAL  JR

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