Prolific writer Tom Keneally stormed back into the book market last week with the release of two new oeuvres. Not bad for a 73 year old! KC Culture Correspondant (KtripleC) attended a pre-launch soiree in Bondi organised by Zabriskie Books. Tom entertained us hugely with yarns and stories about stories. Questions by the host would set off TK streams of consciousness, including a gem about the film Braveheart and its star Russell Crowe (sic).
Keneally related, with infectious enthusiasm, the historic background and plot of the first new book ‘The People’s Train’, about Russian revolutionaries who escape to Brisbane prior to WWI. KCCC bought a signed copy, and reading is under way for future review.
The second book ‘Australians: Origins to Eureka’ is a weighty tome tracing the history of our fair continent from the mists of geological time through to the Eureka Stockade. Tom is thinking of another two volumes to follow, perhaps up to 1960s. Editing his books must be a challenge.
A curious side story he uncovered during its writing concerns a link between our very own Captain Phillip and the Holocaust. Apparently he sent an aboriginal skull to Joseph Banks, who passed it to German anthropologist Johann Blumenbach, who used it in formulating theories of racial types and centrality of Caucasians, which Hitler used to justify Aryan superiority. Mmm.
Referring to his extensive research, TK said that “all writing is a form of plunder”, which is under consideration for inclusion in KC’s mission statement.
A few days later Kevin Rudd officially launched Tom’s second book in Parliament House. Who would imagine a literary scoop in Bondi of all places – it’s in danger of becoming the new Balmain! A Bondi Book Festival has already been mooted.
P.S. Another public Keneally is Tom’s niece-in-law Kristina, minister in NSW’s dysfunctional Labor government. She’s really keen on political power.