Winning the Booker Prize for Schindler’s Ark was ‘the greatest night of a lonely career’, said Thomas Keneally in his acceptance speech for the award.
His 1982 win did raise some questions about whether the book was fiction or not, but, said Keneally, he was ‘delighted that I don’t have to answer that question’.
‘The judges are going to have to answer it tomorrow,’ he continued. I’m astounded that they had the courage to put themselves in such a position; I wish them well with the task.’
Keneally made a point to thank Poldek Pfefferberg, also known as Leopold Page, the Polish-American Holocaust survivor who told Keneally the story of Oskar Schindler and inspired him to write the novel.
‘Although I think that in all good conscience I think the book is a literary work and a novel, it is necessary to thank the people, the characters who are actually alive,’ said Keneally. ‘One of the characters is a luggage merchant from Los Angeles - Poldek Pfefferberg or Leopold Page - not only could I recommend his merchandise but he was the man who gave me the story.
‘And I’m the extraordinary position akin to that of a Hollywood producer when he humbly accepts his Oscar and thanks so many people. Normally a writer doesn’t have to thank so many people, but most of my characters are still alive and I’d also like to remember the extraordinary character whom Oskar was.’