Carey, Peter

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Carey, Peter

Peter Carey, 1943–, Australian novelist, b. near Melbourne. Carey's combination of science fiction and fantasy motifs with a realistic style, displayed in the short stories in The Fat Man in History (1974), War Crimes (1979), and Collected Stories (1995), has invited comparison with such modern masters as Borges and Grass. In longer works of fiction, such as Bliss (1981, his first novel), Illywhacker (1985), and other books, Carey confronts the realities and myths of Australian history and society. Two later novels of Australia, the Victorian-style Oscar and Lucinda (1988) and The True History of the Kelly Gang (2001), a legendary outlaw's "memoir," won Booker Prizes. Carey's other novels include The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994); Jack Maggs (1997); complex and ironic treatments of literary life, My Life as a Fake (2003), and painting and the art market, Theft: A Love Story (2006); His Illegal Self (2008); Parrot and Olivier in America (2010), a picaresque riff on de Tocqueville; The Chemistry of Tears (2012), a 19th- and 20th-century tale of grief and automatons; and Amnesia (2015), focused on muckraking, computer hacking, and Australian-American history. Carey, who moved to New York in 1991 and has taught writing at New York Univ. and Barnard College, has also written screenplays, a children's book (1995), and 30 Days in Sydney (2001), a portrait of his one-time hometown.

See critical studies by H. Krassnitzer (1995), G. Huggan, ed. (1997), B. Woodcock (1997, repr. 2003), and A. J. Hassall (rev. ed. 1998).

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