Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Peter Carey: At Home in Australia, New York and Writing
By Charles McGrath
Published: April 26, 2010, New York Times

The novelist Peter Carey, whose new book, “Parrot and Olivier in America,” came out last week, likes to call himself a Marshian, which is another way of saying he’s from Australia.

Mr. Carey, one of only two writers to win the Booker Prize twice (the other is J. M. Coetzee, a South African), grew up about 30 miles from Melbourne in the improbably named town of Bacchus Marsh, where his parents owned a car dealership.

First working in an ad agency and then writing full time, Mr. Carey, now 66, lived down under until 1990, when he moved to New York.

He still speaks in a broad Australian accent and is not shy about mentioning that his homeland recently issued a 55-cent postage stamp in his honor, or two postage stamps, really. One shows Mr. Carey as he is today, ready to erupt into a smile, which is practically his default expression. The other shows a photograph, selected by Mr. Carey himself, from 30 years ago, when he looked a bit — well, Marshian, with thick, nerdy glasses and features that seem a little mismatched.

“I have pictures that are much worse,” he said recently, laughing, in the SoHo apartment where he lives with the book editor Frances Coady.

Until now, all of Mr. Carey’s novels have in one way or another been about Australia. Probably the most famous are “Jack Maggs” (1998), which reimagines Dickens’s “Great Expectations” from the point of view of Magwitch, Pip’s benefactor, newly returned from the penal colony down under; and “True History of the Kelly Gang” (2001), which recounts the story of Ned Kelly, the Australian outlaw and folk hero, in Kelly’s own words, vivid, expansive and unpunctuated.
Full story at NYT.

No comments: