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.