Tom Keneally

‘When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished.’ That gunshot of a quotation comes from the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. I suspect he means writers are traitors to biology – they have higher allegiances than blood ties. Art is their true spouse; their works are the favoured first-born.

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Australia is a country that will not be intimidated by its own decency. On 28 August 2001, as a detail of Special Air Services soldiers was dispatched to MV Tampa, Prime Minister John Howard spoke about the 438 people – mostly Afghan Hazaras – who languished aboard the freighter ...

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alancing the big picture with the intimate details that engage us when reading a novel is not easy. This latest book from veteran Australian author Tom Keneally is epic in scope, but takes us into the intimate worlds of particular people. This is the way to tell a story about an event as mammoth as World War I. Keneally, the author of Schindler’s Ark ...

Many of my dreams have to do with the sea. Sometimes they concern Antarctica, an exciting prelude to going into the interior with other people.

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Reading Tom Keneally is always a delight. As a novelist, he has done much for Australian literature, but his non-fiction is more personable, the product of a sparkling intelligence and keen sense of humour. He is a man with eclectic interests, deeply engaged with the world: both its wonders and its tragedies. One could hardly imagine a less withdrawn artist.

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In September 1943, seventeen commandos of Z Special Force, led by Lieutenant Commander Ivan Lyon, attacked and sank with limpet mines seven ships in the Singapore harbour. A year later, in October 1944, when the Pacific War had only months to run, a repeat performance failed and all those involved were ...

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Writing novels, he’s Tom Keneally. Works of history – such as The Great Shame (1998) about the Irish diaspora to the USA and Australian in the nineteenth century, and this year’s American Scoundrel, concerned with the adventures of politician, general and amorist Dan Sickles – are by Thomas Keneally. There is more doubling in Keneally’s most recent novel, for he uses two titles. In this country, we have An Angel in Australia; in Britain, The Office of Innocence. Each suggests a different line of approach to a novel that seems in some ways old-fashioned, so instinct is it with his earlier work. By the way, Keneally’s novel count is now twenty-six, including two under the pseudonym ‘William Coyle’.

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Jacko by Tom Keneally

by
November 1993, no. 156

We are introduced to the eponymous hero of Jacko by an Australian narrator who is writing a novel about China and teaching a writing class at New York University. The students in his class hero-worship Grace Paley, Alice Munro, and Raymond Carver and compose pieces for submission to the New Yorker.

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