Peter Carey is one of Australia’s great novelists – and the only one to have won the Booker Prize twice.
His intricately inventive novels delve deep into questions of what it is to be human – and often, what it is to be Australian, too. His characters are risk-takers and mavericks, outcasts and oddballs – from a young Ned Kelly in the award-winning The True History of the Kelly Gang to Butcher Boone, Theft’s ‘wildman’ artist imprisoned for stealing his own paintings.
‘Carey is an artist who churns and curses and worries and frets,’ wrote a besotted Patrick Ness in the Guardian. ‘His novels roil, threatening at any moment to erupt impolitely all over the carpet. He is formally ostentatious, often inventing fabulist characters with equally fabulist voices and generally remaining allergic to adjective-free naturalism.’
In his latest novel, Amnesia, Carey leaves behind the historical fiction he’s best known for, in favour of a thoroughly contemporary situation – a ‘what if’ novel set in 2010, addressing the fiercest political concerns of 2014.
A young Australian hacker sends a worm into the computerised control systems of hundreds of Australian prisons, freeing the prisoners. Because Australian prison security is mostly designed and sold by American corporations, the worm spreads to the US.
Has this Australian woman declared cyber war on the US? Or was her Angel Worm intended only to open the prison doors of those unfortunates detained by Australia’s harsh immigration policies?
Peter Carey will talk to Michael Williams about his provocative new novel, his body of work, and his complicated, questioning relationship with his country of origin. This is a rare opportunity to hear one of our most successful exports – and finest writers – in person.
In conversation with Michael Williams.
Peter Carey was born in Australia in 1943. He claims his birthplace of Bacchus Marsh had a population of 4,000. This fact should probably be checked. He was educated at the local state school until the age of 11 and then became a boarder at Geelong Grammar School. He was a student there between 1954 and 1960 — after Rupert Murdoch had graduated and before Prince Charles arrived.
Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.
He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian and elsewhere.