Thomas Keneally, the author best know for his Booker Prize-winning novel Schindler’s Ark, was born on this day in 1935. Schindler’s Ark was published in 1982 “when I still had hair,” Keneally said when January Magazine interviewed him in 1999. The book was later adapted for film by Stephen Spielberg and released as Schindler’s List and would become an Academy Award-winning movie.

On the occasion of Keneally’s birthday, Writer’s Almanac says:

Today is the birthday of Australian author Thomas Keneally (books by this author), born in Sydney in 1935. When he finished school, he decided to become a priest and studied for seven years in preparation. He eventually decided that he wasn’t cut out for it, and he left the seminary in 1960, before his ordination. He remains interested in spiritual subjects and social questions. He’s written 10 books of nonfiction and many novels; he’s best known as the author of Schindler’s Ark (1982), the book on which the Steven Spielberg film Schindler’s List (1993) was based. It’s the story of an opportunistic, alcoholic, womanizing German businessman, Oskar Schindler, who bribed and conned Nazi officials into letting him open his own labor camp staffed by Jewish prisoners. In time, Schindler began to use his labor camp to rescue hundreds of Jews from the concentration camps. Keneally told Publishers Weekly, “Stories of fallen people who stand out against the conditions that their betters succumb to are always fascinating. It was one of those times in history when saints are no good to you and only scoundrels who are pragmatic can save souls.”

Keneally’s most recent book is 2012’s The Daughters of Mars, a novel about two Australian sisters who struggle to nurse soldiers badly wounded soldiers during World War I. ◊

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