About Thomas Keneally
Thomas Keneally was born in Australia in 1935, and since the late 1960s has written some thirty titles that have been published throughout the English-speaking world and in foreign translation. His works include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Confederates, Schindler's List, and The Great Shame. He has been short-listed for the Booker Prize four times and won it in 1982 for Schindler's List. He has taught at NYU and as a Distinguished Professor in the writing program at University of California Irvine (UCI). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Many of his more recent works have been nominated as New York Times Notable Books of the Year.
In 1995 Keneally gave up his post at UCI to concentrate on The Great Shame, his story of the Irish Diaspora in the nineteenth century world, from the Arctic to the sub-Antarctic, told from the point of view of Irish political prisoners sent to Australia, many of whom escaped to the United States and were politically prominent there. His wife Judy Keneally had two such figures as great-grandparents, and Keneally himself similarly had political prisoner forebears. After UCI he continued to live in his native Sydney, Australia, with frequent book-tours and lectures in the United States. When he appeared on "This is Your Life," the program included greetings from Steven Spielberg, Hillary Clinton, Salman Rushdie, Ben Kingsley and Senator Ted Kennedy.
His novels since that time have included A River Town and the recent The Tyrants' Novel (2004), American Scoundrel (2002), the extraordinary tale of Civil War general Dan Sickles and Commonwealth of Thieves (2006). His short biography of Lincoln, written under commission for the Viking series of biographies authored by novelists, was short-listed for the Lincoln Medal. In 1999 he was declared an Australian Living Treasure.
In his native country he was the foundation chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, aimed at bringing a constitutional end to Australia's connections with the British monarchy, and a campaigner for the rights of asylum seekers.
The arrival of grandchildren has kept him closer to home, but he covered the 2000 Ethiopian invasion of Eritrea from the Eritrean side. He also has a passion for adventure travel, and during 2003 visited the Ross Ice Shelf in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, and dived in a Russian submersible 9,000 feet to the recently discovered hydro-thermal vent, Nine North, on the sea-bed off Costa Rica.
He lives on a beach near Sydney with his wife Judith, and is involved in the Australian surf-lifesaving movement. He has two daughters and three grandchildren.
In the March, his latest book, The Widow and Her Hero was published by Sceptre.
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