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In 1980 Tom Keneally was in Beverley Hills returning from the Sorrento film festival where The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith had been showing. Looking for a new briefcase, Tom meets the Polish-Jewish Leopold Pfefferberg Page aka Poldek and his life for the next few years is taken over by this charismatic and driven man and the story he wants shared. The story is of course that of "the all-drinking, all-screwing, all black-marketeering Nazi. But to me he was Jesus Christ, Oskar Schindler". And Poldek shared with Tom the story of Schindler's Ark which went on to win the Booker Prize and ultimately to become the Oscar award-winning film Schindler's List. Schindler, the ruined Catholic hedonist, had something ambiguous about him that appealled to the ex-seminarian Tom Keneally who still struggled with his own Catholicism and his humanist view of the world. Searching for Schindler is very much Tom's journey, he reflects on his early days as a writer with quite a bit of success and how this book, the people he met, and the film it became, changed his life.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781741666151
ISBN-10: 1741666155
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 155mm x 24mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Vintage (Australia)
Publisher: Random House Australia
Publish Date: 1-Sep-2008
Country of Publication: Australia

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Book Review: Searching for Schindler by Tom Keneally - Reviewed by (12 Jan 2010)

Searching for Schindler: A Memoir (Tom Keneally, Knopf, $45 hb, ISBN 9781740512015, October)

This very readable narrative is Keneally’s tale of how he came to hear of a man named Osckar Schindler, write a book about him and see it turned into a movie. It begins with Poldek, the man whose LA store Keneally steps into to replace a broken briefcase. One of those who attribute their survival of the Holocaust to Schindler, Poldek is larger than life, disarming, and generous with his compliments. It is easy to see how he convinced Keneally to take on Schindler’s story and how his energy pressed the project on. Before the book is even agreed to, Poldek is adamant it will become a film. ‘You’ll win an Oscar for Oskar,’ he would later tell Steven Spielberg—who did, of course. This is neither an in-depth examination of the process of writing the book (Schindler’s Ark is completed by the time we are halfway through), nor of making the film (though we do visit the set), nor is Schindler necessarily at its very heart. Reading it, one feels as if Keneally were in the room telling a series of anecdotes with the polish (and very slight weariness) of someone who has told them many times before: his thoughts on Spielberg, the actors, winning the Booker, meeting the Clintons—and his ever-present knowledge that his book’s success is based on unthinkable horrors. Above all this reads like an affectionate and ultimately poignant thankyou to Poldek, one that seems very well deserved.


Author Biography - Tom Keneally

Thomas Keneally won the Booker Prize in 1982 with Schindler's Ark, later made into the Academy Award-winning film Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg. His non-fiction, includes the memoir Searching for Schindler and Three Famines, an LA Times Book of the Year, and the histories The Commonwealth of Thieves, The Great Shame and American Scoundrel. His fiction, includes The Daughters of Mars, The Widow and Her Hero (shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award), An Angel in Australia and Bettany's Book. His novels The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest, and Confederates were all shortlisted for the Booker Prize, while Bring Larks and Heroes and Three Cheers for the Paraclete won the Miles Franklin Award. The People's Train was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, South East Asia division.

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