Peter Carey’s new novel is 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.
It’s an Australia with which his work has engaged on and off, sometimes obliquely, through his career. The landscape has been a presence ever since Illywhacker (1985). The Man Booker-winning True History of the Kelly Gang (2000) ventriloquised his native land’s most famous bandit. His last novel, Amnesia (2014), offered a riddlingly metafictional retelling of the Seventies coup against Gough Whitlam. Here, in his 14th novel, he roams more widely across Australia’s territory and more deeply into its past than ever before – and reaps rich rewards from doing so.
To start with, A Long Way From Home presents itself...
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