My Life as a Fake

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Following the triumph of his Booker Prize–winning True History of the Kelly Gang, Peter Carey ventures into the Far East with a novel shot through with mysteries at once historical, literary, and personal.

Sarah Wode-Douglass, the editor of a London poetry magazine, had grown up knowing the famous and infamous John Slater. And because he figured prominently in the disaster that was her parents’ marriage, when Slater proposes that she accompany him to Malaysia, Sarah embarks out of curiosity on a journey that becomes, instead, a lifelong obsession. Her discoveries spiral outward from Christopher Chubb, a destitute Australian she meets by chance in the steamy, fetid city of Kuala Lumpur. He is mad, Slater warns her, explaining the ruinous hoax Chubb had committed decades earlier. But lurking behind the man’s peculiarity and arrogance, Sarah senses, is artistic genius, in the form of a manuscript he teases her with and which she soon would do anything to acquire. The provenance of this work, she gradually learns, is marked by kidnapping, exile, and death — a relentless saga that reaches from Melbourne to Bali, Sumatra, and Java, and that more than once compels her back to Malaysia without ever disclosing all of its secrets, only the power of the imagination and the price it can exact from those who would wield it.

Astonishing, mesmerizing, and ultimately shocking, My Life as a Fake is the most audacious novel yet in Peter Carey’s extraordinary career.

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The Old Rectory, Thornton, Berkshire. August 1985

I have known John Slater all my life. Perhaps you remember the public brawl with Dylan Thomas, or even have a copy of his famous book of 'dirty' poems. If it's an American edition you'll discover, on the inside flap, a photograph of the handsome, fair-...
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READING GUIDE

The questions, discussion topics, and suggested reading list that follow are designed to enhance your group’s reading of Peter Carey’s My Life as a Fake, a wonderfully conceived and cleverly executed novel about the relationship between art and artist, truth and fiction. Based on an infamous literary...
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PRAISE FOR

“Peter Carey’s new novel, My Life as a Fake, is so confidently brilliant, so economical yet lively in its writing, so tightly fitted and continuously startling in its plot that something, we feel, must be wrong with it.”
—John Updike, The New Yorker

“Carey has always been a master of high-energy prose, but he is also skilled at the memorable moment — the scene or tableau so rich or original that it lingers long after the novel.”
The Globe and Mail

“exquisitively crafted…a fantastic tale constructed as a story within a story within a story.”
Toronto Star

“Part detective story, part pitiless dissection of the colonial psyche, part gothic horror tale…. Carey makes magic…. In My Life as a Fake, Carey exposes such profound insecurities, invents so many maddened and tender characters, paints such an indelible picture of the sad expatriate life that, like poor ‘Bob McCorkle,’ he seizes our imagination and won’t let go…. [H]ugely entertaining.”
The Toronto Star

“[L]ikened to prime period Graham Greene with touches of Malcolm Lowry, Mary Shelley, Joseph Conrad, George Gissing and William Somerset Maugham…. It’s hard to think of another major writer working in English who has shown the stylistic range, coupled with a refusal to repeat himself, that Peter Carey has.”
The Gazette

My Life as a Fake is a novel to mull over, to reread and to ruminate upon. True, it teases readers with the questions of morality and mortality it raises. But it also prods us towards examination of the levels of ‘fakery’ and untruth in our own lives.”
The Edmonton Journal

“There are brilliant, almost phantasmagoric, episodes in jungles, brothels, planters’ hotels, tropical tailors’ shops, all drawn by a master story-teller.”
Evening Standard (UK)

“...Peter Carey’s new novel comes like a monsoon after drought. It is a magnificent, poetic contemplation of the lying, fakery and insincerity inherent in the act of artistic creation....It’s a charismatically furious piece of work, brilliantly meshing its ethical and artistic debate with a rich human drama.”
The Times (UK)

“The wrting is precise and beautifully intense, blending imipressions of Malaysia with the ebb and flow of Micks’s mental state, recalled, sometimes mistily, after many years...Carey gives profound attention to the mysteries of authenticity and poetry, especially on how fabricated fakes may become supernatural and inspirational....In a beautifully crafted piece of storytelling, Peter Carey has produced an immensely powerful work that will resonate for generations.”
The Independent (UK)

“In My Life as a Fake, Carey brings to the fore the same devices he used so successfully in his Booker-winning Oscar and Lucinda (1988) and True History of the Kelly Gang (2001), as well as in his recent novel, Jack Maggs. A two-tiered love story combines with trickery, secrecy, gothic horror, criss-crossed identities, a reach for power and a search for certainty that marked the earlier books. Carey’s new novel is intelligent, complex, strikingly original and oddly (considering its subject) witty. It is what was once called ‘a good yarn’ — another good read from an inventive and masterful novelist.”
The London Free Press

Praise for True History of the Kelly Gang:
“Carey has transformed sepia legend into brilliant, even violent, colour, and turned a distant myth into warm flesh and blood. Packed with incident, alive with comedy and pathos, True History of the Kelly Gang contains pretty much everything you could ask of a novel.”
The New York Times Book Review

“A tour-de-force. . . . Kelly’s rough-necked, tender, funny, lyrical and engaging personality shines through.”
National Post

“This is a book born of bone, blood and beauty, as well as piercing social and historical insight. If there is a better novel written in English this year, it will need to be very, very good indeed: for here is a voice that will not let go.”
Ottawa Citizen


From the Hardcover edition.