Peter Carey biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Peter Carey.

Author Biography  |  Interview  |  Books by this Author  |  Readalikes

Peter Carey
Photo: Maron Ettlinger

Peter Carey

Peter Carey Biography

Peter Carey was born in 1943, in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia.   His parents, who had a General Motors dealership, sent him to Geelong Grammar School, one of the leading private schools, "where the children of Australia's Best Families all spoke with English accents". He studied briefly at Monash University, but left after failing his first year science exams, after which he left to work as a copyrighter in advertisign agencies in Melbourne and London. He started to read passionately, especially the work of Joyce, Beckett, Kafka and Faulkner, and in 1964 he began to write.  He moved to Sydney in 1974 where he continued copyrighting.  His first collection of surreal short stories, War Crimes, was published in 1979, followed by The Fat Man in History in 1980. 

He then wrote three novels, Bliss (1981), about an advertising executive who has an out-of-body experience; Illywhacker (1985), a huge vision of Australian history told through the memoirs of a 100-year old confidence man or "illywhacker"; and Oscar and Lucinda (1988), a complex symbolic tale of the arrival of Christianity in Australia.

In 1990/1991 he moved to New York, with his wife, Alison Summers, a theater director, and his son, to teach creative writing at University of New York.

The Tax Inspector was published in 1991, then came The Unusual Life of Tristran Smith (1994); Jack Maggs (1997), True History of the Kelly Gang (2001), My Life as a Fake (2003) and Theft (2006).

He has also written the film script for Until the End of the World (1992), and co-wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of Bliss (1985). Oscar and Lucinda was also adapted for film in 1997, with a screenplay written by Laura Jones.

In addition to his adult fiction, he has written a number of other books including The Big Bazoohley (for children, 1995) and 30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account (non-fiction, 2001) and Wrong about Japan (2005), a memoir/travelogue of his journey through Japan with his son Charley and their attempts to understand the Japanese culture and heritage.

He still lives in New York, and still teaches Creative Writing at New York University. He has been awarded three honorary degrees and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Australian Academy of Humanities and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Prizes & Awards (partial list)

  • 1979   Miles Franklin Award (Australia)   War Crimes
  • 1980   New South Wales Premier's Literary Award   War Crimes
  • 1981   Miles Franklin Award (Australia)   Bliss
  • 1982   National Book Council Award (Australia)   Bliss
  • 1982   New South Wales Premier's Literary Award   Bliss
  • 1985   Book Council Award (Australia)   Illywhacker
  • 1985   Booker Prize for Fiction   (shortlist)   Illywhacker
  • 1985   The Age Book of the Year Award   Illywhacker
  • 1986   Ditmar Award for Best Australian Science Fiction Novel   Illywhacker
  • 1986   Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction   Illywhacker
  • 1986   Victorian Premier's Literary Award (Australia)   Illywhacker
  • 1986   World Fantasy Award for Best Novel   (shortlist)   Illywhacker
  • 1988   Book Council Award (Australia)   Oscar and Lucinda
  • 1988   Booker Prize for Fiction   Oscar and Lucinda
    1989   Miles Franklin Award (Australia)   Oscar and Lucinda
  • 1994   The Age Book of the Year Award   The Unusual Life of Tristran Smith
  • 1997   James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction)   (shortlist)   Jack Maggs
  • 1997   The Age Book of the Year Award   Jack Maggs
  • 1998   Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book)   Jack Maggs
  • 1998   Miles Franklin Award (Australia)   Jack Maggs
  • 2001   Booker Prize for Fiction   True History of the Kelly Gang
  • 2001   Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book)   True History of the Kelly Gang
  • 2001   Miles Franklin Award (Australia)   (shortlist)   True History of the Kelly Gang
  • 2001   Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction   True History of the Kelly Gang
     


Bibliography
War Crimes (1979)
The Fat Man in History (1980)
Bliss (1981)
Illywhacker (1985)
Oscar and Lucinda (1988)
The Tax Inspector (1991)
The Unusual Life of Tristran Smith (1994)
Collected Stories (1995)
The Big Bazoohley (1995)
Jack Maggs (1997)
30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account (2001)
True History of the Kelly Gang (2001)
My Life as a Fake (2003)
Wrong about Japan (2005)
Theft: A Love Story (2006)
His Illegal Self (2008)
Parrot and Olivier in America (2009)
The Chemistry of Tears (2012)

Link to Peter's website

This biography was last updated on 05/08/2012.

A note about the biographies
We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate. However, with over 2500 lives to keep track of it's inevitable that some won't be as current or as complete as we would like. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date, inaccurate or simply very short, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and those connected with authors: If you wish to make changes to your bio, please send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Interview

Peter Carey talks about Parrot and Olivier

What was your starting point for Parrot and Olivier in America?
 
I might say, "Reading Tocqueville's Democracy in America," but in fact it began before that—years of hearing how Americans quote Tocqueville. If one were to rely on these snippets, one would think that Tocqueville fell head over heels in love with this new Democracy, that he "got" America.
 
Of course, he was in his twenties and was only here for a very short time. It's impossible, you would think, that he "got" everything. He was a child of traumatized survivors of the French Revolution. He had good reason to fear the mob and the rule of the majority. You might think he had no chance of getting anything. But to read Democracy in America, the reader will be astonished to see that he did indeed "get" America, although in a much more complicated way than common quotation suggests.
 
It is eerie, really, to see him fearing the dumbing down of society and the devastating conjunction of capitalism and culture. He is looking at the USA in the 1830s, but he clearly sees the phantoms of Palin and the Bushes.
 
He also ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Peter Carey at BookBrowse

Recommended in Detail at BookBrowse

Parrot and Olivier in America
Parrot and Olivier in America

by Peter Carey

From the two-time Booker Prize–winning author comes an irrepressibly funny new novel set in early nineteenth-century America.
Read More

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Peter Carey but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Caroline Alexander

    Caroline Alexander

    Caroline Alexander was born in Florida, of British parents and has lived in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. She studied philosophy and theology at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and has a doctorate in classics from Columbia ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    True History of The Kelly Gang

    Try:
    The Bounty
    by Caroline Alexander

  • Julian Barnes

    Julian Barnes

    Julian Barnes was born in Leicester, England on January 19, 1946. He was educated at the City of London School from 1957 to 1964 and at Magdalen College, Oxford, from which he graduated in modern languages (with honors)... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Parrot and Olivier in America

    Try:
    Arthur & George
    by Julian Barnes

We recommend 20 similar authors

View all 20 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Sailor Twain
by Mark Siegel

Published Mar. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and ambitious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.