Il canto di Jimmie Blacksmith
by Thomas Keneally
Original title: The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Australia, 2013
First published by Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1972
Translated into ITALIAN by Valentina Rossini
Cover illustration by Guido Capoferri
This Booker Prize shortlisted novel audaciously evokes the dramatic events from the true story of Jimmy Governor, the Aboriginal Australian who killed nine white people in 1900, apparently in a prolonged frenzy, and was hunted in the bush for months, creating an atmosphere of terror. But the truth surrounding Jimmy’s motives, is perhaps not so simple. In the background, a young and proud Australia, eager to obtain a certain independence from ‘Mother England’, and in celebrating their nascent country, far too happy to waive aside the shadier pages of its history, like the plight of the convicts and native Australians.
Thomas Keneally is an institution in Australia, where there is a Tom Keneally Centre, used for literature launches, where he is listed in the official list of “National Living Treasures”, where a copy of his autographed book Lincoln (2003) was used by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as a state gift to US President Barack Obama, and where Keneally has been appointed Officer Of The Order of Australia by Queen Elizabeth II. His international fame grew after his Booker Prize winning novel Schindler’s Ark (1982) was made into the film Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg. Keneally’s books have gained wide recognition, being shortlisted for the Booker another three times, including for The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, and his books have won the Miles Franklin Award twice. Keneally grew up in Sydney and Kempsey in a Catholic family and was ordained as a Deacon while studying to be a priest, which he never took up. Before gaining fame as a novelist, he was a schoolteacher and university lecturer in Australia and later, in the US. He has appeared as an actor in some films (including adaptations of his own works, amongst which The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith). He was founding Chairman of The Australian Republican Movement, and currently is an ambassador of the Asylum Seekers Centre, as well as great supporter of Rugby League club Manly. He has been described as: “the nearest we have [in Australia] to a Balzac of our literature”.