But with this week's revelation that her real name is Darville and not Demidenko, she has been forced to concede that her father, who hails from northeast England, was not a Ukrainian who avoided service with the SS due to his ill health.
The leading critic of the novel, Gerard Henderson, executive director of The Sydney Institute, a think tank, said the writer "was listened to because she claimed to be speaking oral history — namely the story of Ukrainians living in Australia."
Darville adopted the family name of a real participant in the 1941 Babi Yar massacre of Jews in the Ukraine, according to Henderson. The historic Demidenko appears in Antoli Kuznetsov's "Babi Yar" and D.M. Thomas' "The White Hotel," which Darville purportedly read.
Isi Leibler, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said: "The work was pernicious, irrespective of what the author's background is. The fact that she was…misrepresenting herself…questions the other statements she made trying to validate her position."