Thomas Michael (“Mick”) Keneally, is an Australian novelist, playwright and author of non-fiction who celebrates his 80th birthday today. He is best known for writing Schindler’s Ark, the Booker Prize-winning novel. Keneally wrote the novel in 1982, inspired by the efforts of Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor.
In 1980 Pfefferberg met Keneally and showed him his extensive files on Oskar Schindler. Keneally was interested, and Pfefferberg became an advisor for the book, accompanying Keneally to Poland where they visited Kraków and the sites associated with the Schindler story. Keneally dedicated Schindler’s Ark to Pfefferberg. He said in an interview in 2007 that what attracted him to Oskar Schindler was that “it was the fact that you couldn’t say where opportunism ended and altruism began. That is, that good will emerge from the most unlikely places”. The book was later made into a film titled Schindler’s List (1993) directed by Steven Spielberg, earning his first Best Director Oscar.
In 1983, Keneally was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. He is an Australian Living Treasure.
He is a strong advocate of an Australian republic, meaning the abolition of the Australian monarchy.
In March 2009, the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, gave an autographed copy of Keneally’s biography of Lincoln to President Barack Obama as a state gift.
Schindler’s List starred one of my favorite actors, Liam Neeson.