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Book Talks: The Inspiration Behind Schindler's List

As told by author Thomas Keneally

Hear the history behind the book that inspired Schindler’s List, presented by the author himself.


The tenth anniversary edition of Australian Writer’s Week China will come to Shanghai May 14 and 16 with a visit from internationally renowned Man Booker Prize winner, Thomas Keneally. 


Raised in Sydney, Australia, Thomas Keneally wasn’t always focused on becoming one of Australia's most popular and prolific writers. Immediately out of high school he entered seminary school and endured its labors until the end when he experienced cold feet before his ordination and abandoned his duties to god at the altar. However, he was quick to establish another fate for himself repurposing his seminary school experience into material for his early fiction novels, The Place at Whitton (1964) and Three Cheers for The Paraclete (1968). 


During the publication of the aforementioned novels Keneally worked as a Sydney school teacher, writing fervently on the side, before commencing his prolific output with the release of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972; film 1980). The relatable novel, recounting the actual life of a half caste aboriginal who rebels against white racism by going on a murder spree, earned Keneally international recognition. A decade later he released his best known work Schindler’s Ark, the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s 1993 dramatic masterpiece, Schindler’s List


The discussion on May 16 at Shanghai Library, The Story Behind Schindler’s List, will focus on both the true life of Oskar Schindler and Keneally’s initial inspiration to mold the story into what is commonly hailed as his most evocative novel.


Attendees of The Craft of Adapting History into Text and Film on May 18, can expect an intriguing discussion about how Keneally masterfully injects his signature humanity and emotion into his works rendering them much more than mere factual retellings. Both events are free to attend.



What: Tom Keneally: The Story Behind Schindler’s List
When: May 16 Tue 7pm
Where: Shanghai Library, 1555 Huaihai Zhong Lu (near Gao’an Lu) 淮海中路1555号 (近高安路)

What: Tom Keneally: The craft of adapting history into text and film
When: May 18 Thu 2pm
Where: Sinan Mansions, Sinan Mansions Exhibition Center, 505 Fuxing Zhong Lu (near Chongqing Nan Lu) 思南公馆 复兴中路505号 (近重庆南路)

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