Carey, Peter, 1943–, Australian novelist, b. near Melbourne. Carey's combination of science fiction and fantasy motifs with a realistic style, displayed in such short-story volumes as 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); My Life as a Fake (2003), a complex and ironic treatment of literary life; Theft: A Love Story (2006), which takes a similar approach to painting and the art market; His Illegal Self (2008); Parrot and Olivier in America (2010), a picaresque riff on Alexis de Tocqueville and a fictional companion; and The Chemistry of Tears (2012), a tale of grief and automatons set in both the 19th and 20th cent. 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).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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