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Peter Carey
Peter Carey


NYS Writers Institute, April 7, 2009
4:00 p.m. Seminar | Heffner Alumni House, 1301 Peoples Avenue,
Rensselear (RPI), Troy
8:00 p.m. Reading and McKinney Award Ceremony | Darrin Communication Center 308, Rensselear (RPI), Troy

Peter Carey,
major Australian novelist, two-time winner of the Booker Prize, will deliver the annual McKinney Reading at 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 7, 2009. in Darrin Communication Center 308 on the Rensselaer (RPI) campus in Troy. Earlier that same day at 4:00 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the Heffner Alumni House, 1301 Peoples Avenue, on the Rensselaer campus. The events are free and open to the public, and are sponsored by Rensselaer’s 68th McKinney Writing Contest and Reading, and the New York State Writers Institute.


Peter Carey,
author of outrageous and imaginative historical fiction, has been called “Australia’s finest fiction writer.” Over a career spanning twelve novels that have invited comparisons to the work of Kurt Vonnegut and Evelyn Waugh, Carey has received numerous major awards, including the Booker Prize (twice), and the Commonwealth Prize (twice).

His newest novel is “His Illegal Self” (2008). Set in the 1970s, it follows the adventures of Che Selkirk, the child of on-the-run Weather Underground-style hippies. After his mother is nearly killed by a car during a Vietnam protest, her one-year-old baby clutched in her arms, Che is placed in the care of his upper middle class Manhattan grandmother. Soon thereafter, Che’s mother is convicted of robbing a bank in suburban Bronxville, and the grandmother receives permanent custody. One day, when Che is seven years old, his sheltered life comes abruptly to an end. A wild woman named Dial, who may or may not be Che’s mother, whisks him away to live as a fugitive in the Australian outback.

The “Boston Globe” called the book, “Magnificent . . . a novel of narrative complexity and blindingly direct emotion.” The “International Herald Tribune” reviewer called it “enthralling… a book as psychologically taut as a Patricia Highsmith thriller and as starkly beautiful as Mulisch’s modern classic [‘The Assault’].”

Other recent books by Carey include the novels, “Theft: A Love Story” (2006), the tale of two brothers involved in a major art heist; “My Life As a Fake” (2003), based on the true story of two poets who perpetrated a successful literary hoax; “The True History of the Kelly Gang” (2001), a runaway international bestseller about a famous band of Australian highwaymen; and “Jack Maggs” (1997), a reworking of “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens that focuses on the story of Pip’s convict-benefactor.

Writing of “The True History of the Kelly Gang,” the “New York Times” reviewer said that Carey “has transformed sepia legend into brilliant, even violent, color, and turned a distant myth into warm flesh and blood. Packed with incident, alive with comedy and pathos, [it] contains pretty much everything you could ask of a novel. It is an adjectival wonder.”

Carey received the Booker Prize, the British Commonwealth’s most prestigious literary award, for “The True History of the Kelly Gang,” and for “Oscar and Lucinda” (1988), the story of two problem gamblers, an English priest and an Australian heiress, who make a peculiar bet that changes their lives forever. The latter was adapted as a 1997 motion picture starring Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett.

Carey is also the author of the recent nonfiction book, “Wrong About Japan” (2005), the story of a trip the author took with his shy 12-year-old son Charley to investigate the comic book and cartoon art forms of “manga” and “anime.” “Publisher’s Weekly” said, “This travel diary reads like a scintillating novella….”

Additional Links:
Writers Online Magazine: PETER CAREY - Seminar   02.04.09
Writers Online Magazine: PETER CAREY - WAMC Public Radio Talk Show Host Douglas Glover
Previous Visit: April 9, 2002

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.