PRIZEWINNER: Peter Carey has won the Booker twice, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize twice, and Australia’s Miles Franklin Award three times. This is his best work since True History of the Kelly Gang, and seems destined for prize lists.
A FEMALE VOICE: Irene and Willie narrate in alternating chapters, but Irene is in many ways the heart of the book, as are her razor-sharp observations of the men in her life, by turns exasperated, loving, really funny and always wise.
QUESTIONS OF RACE: Black and white, indigenous peoples and settlers. The deep themes explored in this book will echo in Canada, with its history of reserves and residential schools, and the Sixties’ scoop.
REALLY REAL: Though it seems drawn from Peter Carey’s prodigious imagination, the Redex Trial was a storied event in car-racing history…
“Carey offers what might be his most personal work of fiction…. Carey has a long concern with Australian history and has never ignored its colonial legacy. What sets A Long Way from Home apart is its level of attention to aboriginal people and whether his handling of the past here represents a potential turn in his work…. Being a Canadian studying Australian history is like looking into a distorted mirror: despite the differences, you recognize the face…. In A Long Way from Home, all this stuff—all the ways the past is made personal—churns around a question appropriate to a Canadian audience as well.” —The Globe and Mail
“[Irene and Bachhuber], two rich, ripe voices, beautifully realized on the page, are the joy of the novel and at the heart of its achievement—just as Ned Kelly’s voice was at the heart of Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang. The author has such a good ear, such a gift for catching the rhythms of everyday talky, funny rumination, his sentences as crammed with colourful know-how and telling detail as an old attic, or a passage from James Joyce…. It’s a Joycean gift indeed, to be able to catch the poetry of the flow of experience in characters who don’t cultivate their poetic sensibility.” —Tessa Hadley, The Guardian
“[A] major work of fiction by the writer who will probably be regarded, in a hundred years, as the leading Australian novelist from the early part of the twenty-first century.” —The Australian Book Review
“A Long Way from Home, like most of Carey’s work, began with an abstract idea that he followed through logically, as if constructing an argument, but springs to life on the page as something loud and fleshy and hilarious. The characters ‘have to be farting and tap dancing’ as he puts it, and here, they are. Though he says he hadn’t particularly planned to make it ‘a laugh a minute all the way to the heart of darkness,’ that’s exactly what the novel delivers.” —Financial Times
“[A] pretty remarkable beast. It starts out appearing to be one sort of thing, then turns into another, then into still another. In that, it represents the Australia that is its ultimate subject—an Australia of violent transformations and concealed histories…. [A] wild, magical ride.” —The Telegraph (five stars)
“[W]hat starts out feeling like a typical, jauntily whimsical Peter-Carey-by-numbers soon becomes something more complex and powerful. At the end of the novel, Bachhuber’s son recognizes that his father’s life had been spent wrestling with the problem of the ethical representation of a terrible historical wrong: how to ‘record the truth and keep the secret.’ Carey himself has achieved exactly this, in his best novel in years, maybe decades.” —The Guardian
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