NYS Writers Institute, April 9, 2009
In his most recent work, True History of the Kelly Gang (Vintage Books, February, 2002), which won him his second Booker Prize, Carey retells the tale of the legendary Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. Revered as a folk hero by locals and hunted as a killer across the outback by wealthy landowners and police, Kelly's story remains to this day a part of Australian national myth. Written like an American western, Carey sympathetically tells the sharpshooter's story in his own colorfully illiterate dialect. Janet Maslin in The New York Times described the book as, "a spectacular feat of literary ventriloquism. . .as if Huck Finn and Shakespeare had joined forces to prettify the legend of Jesse James. . .a seamlessly imagined coming-of-age story set in wild country and wilder times."
Carey's previous novel Jack Maggs (1998), is a reworking of the Charles Dickens classic, Great Expectations. This time the tale is narrated by Jack Maggs, a variation of the Dickens character of Abel Magwitch, a convicted thief riskingexecution who returns to London from Australia to seek out his heir. "Uncommonly exciting and engaging. . .as much as anyone now writing, Peter Carey is a master of storytelling," said Peter Kemp of the Sunday Times.
Carey's other works include the novels Oscar and Lucinda (1988), winner of Carey's first Booker Prize, which has since been turned into a major motion picture by Fox, starring Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett, and The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994). His three previous volumes of short fiction, including his gloriously bizarre debut The Fat Man in History (1974), have been compiled in one volume, Collected Stories (1994).
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