Peter Carey

(b. 1943) Australian novelist

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(1943– )

Australian novelist who was awarded the Booker Prize in 1988 and 2001.

Peter Carey was born and raised in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. Educated at Australia's elite Geelong and Timbertop schools, Carey failed to obtain his science degree at Monash University. However, on entering the advertising industry, he displayed a precocious talent for copywriting. At twenty-one Carey married and began to write fiction. Travel in Italy and Greece was followed by a period in London and in an alternative community in the Queensland rainforest. Carey's collection of short stories The Fat Man in History (1974) proclaimed his literary arrival, while Bliss (1981) won the Miles Franklin Award and the New South Wales Premier Award and was filmed, with Carey writing the screenplay (1986).

Illywhacker (1985), which drew on the remarkable experiences of Carey's grandfather delivering mail across South Australia in a Blériot plane, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Its curious title comes from the Australian slang for a con man. Oscar and Lucinda, a Victorian fantasy inspired by Edmund Gosse's 1907 classic Father and Son, secured him the coveted Booker Prize in 1988. The Tax Inspector (1991) made use of his own father's trade as a car dealer for its background and was especially notable for a single arresting scene of violence. Other novels include The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994) and Jack Maggs (1998). Carey won the Booker Prize for a second time in 2001 with True History of the Kelly Gang (2001), based on the life of the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

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Works by Peter Carey