"If you are MAKING ART," says a character in Peter Carey's magnificent new novel [Theft: A Love Story] "the labour never ends, no peace, no Sabbath, just eternal churning and cursing and worrying and fretting."


Carey is an artist who churns and curses and worries and frets. His novels roil, threatening at any moment to erupt impolitely all over the carpet. He is formally ostentatious, often inventing fabulist characters with equally fabulist voices and generally remaining allergic to adjective-free naturalism. Perhaps this is why, despite being one of the world's leading novelists, he is more respected than loved. Too emotionally dangerous to be fully embraced by doe-eyed lovers of The Time Traveler's Wife, too much fun to be taken entirely seriously by the dour acolytes of JM Coetzee (the contemporary whose career his most resembles), Carey ploughs his own dogged, compelling, fantastical furrow. For these reasons alone - that he frightens those who want their fiction easy and annoys those who want theirs portentous - a new Peter Carey novel is cause for joy
—Guardian


At a time when readers are so often asked to respect, admire and even to buy a vast number of memoirs and naively autobiographical novels whose only dubious merit lies in their sincerity, Peter Carey’s new novel [My Life as a Fake] comes like a monsoon after drought. It is a magnificent, poetic contemplation of the lying, fakery, and insincerity inherent in the act of artistic creation. This haunting fable is built around the idea that in great art, the sincerely meant truth may ring hollow; a meretricious lie may have the energy to girdle the earth before it can be retracted.

Carey has always been a mesmerizing novelist, but in his recent, superb novels like this one, Jack Maggs (about Dickens’s Magwitch, seen from the viewpoint of his Australian life) and the incomparable True History of the Kelly Gang, he has started to assemble a great Australian national epic in prose. With these subjects of the convict founders of Ned Kelly, the brutal bush-ranger, he has sometimes offended local sensitivities, and this marvelous novel, simultaneously sensational and meditative, may offend more with its subject of national fraudulence. But no one can doubt that one day Australian children will recite the Kelly Gang as children of Italy do Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi.
—The Times


He has an ornamental shrub species (grevillia) named after him. Also a car hire company. And a manufacturer of woodheaters. He is an iconic Australian outlaw who lived a brief yet blazing 25 years and stamped himself indelibly into the country's subconscious. November will mark the 120th anniversary of his hanging, but evidence suggests that in millennial Australia, Ned Kelly is as powerfully symbolic of anti-authority and rebellion and courage as he has ever been.


Enter Peter Carey, our world-renowned novelist and Booker Prize winner based in New York. As a writer, he has been bold and brave before - from his fabulous short fiction in the '70s through to his remodelling of Australian history with Illywhacker and Oscar and Lucinda. Now, in a move that seems almost predestined, a great talent has tackled perhaps our greatest myth. In his 400-page epic, True History of the Kelly Gang, Carey has dissembled the famous Kelly armour rivet by rivet, placed the formidable casing around himself and welded himself in.

Carey is not the first to take on Kelly in fiction. That honour belonged to writer Eric Lambert with his novel Kelly (1964). Some formidable works have followed, including Jean Bedford's Sister Kate (1982) and Robert Drewe's Our Sunshine (1991). Both are brilliant in their own way. You can also add Carey's new novel to that canon.
—Sun-Herald Australia


Peter Carey subtitles his book about Sydney "a wildly distorted account". He was wise to warn the reader, though distorted is not the word I would choose to describe this fabulously idiosyncratic small masterpiece about that fabled Australian city. Anxious, fierce, fearsome and fretful are more accurate adjectives for Carey's vision.


Peter Carey has lived in New York for the past ten years. Before that he lived in Sydney, where he became one of Australia's most acclaimed writers. Before that, he was born and raised in the wonderfully named town of Bacchus Marsh, near Melbourne. So, in addition to being a genius, which he is, he is not a Sydneysider, but a more southern, cerebral, tortured sort of Australian, of the kind he chronicled so magnificently in his most recent novel, True History of the Kelly Gang.


Having investigated in that novel the story of Ned Kelly, the most potent of all Australian legends, Peter Carey uses his recent 30-day sojourn in Sydney to investigate another -the convicts thrown out by Britain in the 18th century, and their official masters: Sydney's, and in many ways white Australia's, founding fathers. Surrounding all this the Aborigines are omnipresent too, in one of the few books that manage to rail against the wrongs done to Australia's indigenous people without being both patronising and politically correct.


White Australia has learnt everything from the Aborigines it decimated. Like them, every white Australian is raised on stories: telling stories, "yarns", is one of the earliest Australian Bush traditions, and Carey uses this gift, which he has in abundance, to bring his Sydney alive. Not that this short book is as simple as that. Peter Carey flies into Sydney, dazed by Temazepam, determined to force his old Sydney mates to open up into his tape machine and disgorge potent truths that will illuminate "its painful and peculiar human history". He asks these irritated friends to do this by telling stories about Earth and Air, Fire and Water, the elements he sees as defining Australia, or rather, as hovering over its citizens, ever ready to frighten them to death.
—The Times (London)

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