A Long Way from Home | Penguin Random House Canada
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A Long Way from Home

A Novel

Publisher: Random House Canada
Over the course of his stellar writing life, Peter Carey has explored his homeland of Australia in such highly acclaimed novels as Oscar and Lucinda, True History of the Kelly Gang and Amnesia. Writing at the peak of his powers, Carey takes us on an unforgettable journey that maps his homeland's secrets in this extraordinary new novel.

Wildly inventive, funny and profoundly moving, A Long Way from Home opens in 1953 with the arrival of the tiny, handsome Titch Bobs, his beautiful doll of a wife, Irene, and their two children in the small town of Bacchus Marsh. Titch is the best car salesman in southeastern Australia. Irene loves her husband, and loves to drive fast. Together they enter the Redex Trial, a brutal endurance race around the ancient continent, over roads no car is designed to survive. With them is their neighbour and navigator, Willie Bachhuber, a quiz show champion and failed school teacher who calls the turns and creek crossings on a map that will lead them, without warning, away from the white Australia they all know so well. Just like the novel, Peter Carey's new masterpiece, begins in one way and takes you somewhere you never thought you'd be. Often funny, the book is also and always a page-turner, surprising you with history these characters never even knew themselves. Its profound reckoning with Australia's brutal treatment of the continent's aboriginal people will also resonate strongly with Canadian readers.


The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of A Long Way from Home, the latest masterpiece from two-time Booker Prize–winner Peter Carey.

1. What does the first sentence tell us about Irene? “...

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“Carey offers what might be his most personal work of fiction. . . . Carey has a long concern with Australian history and has never ignored its colonial legacy. What sets A Long Way from Home apart is its level of attention to aboriginal people and whether his handling of the past here represents a potential turn in his work. . . . Being a Canadian studying Australian history is like looking into a distorted mirror: despite the differences, you recognize the face. . . . In A Long Way from Home, all this stuff—all the ways the past is made personal—churns around a question appropriate to a Canadian audience as well.” —The Globe and Mail

“[Irene and Bachhuber], two rich, ripe voices, beautifully realized on the page, are the joy of the novel and at the heart of its achievement—just as Ned Kelly’s voice was at the heart of Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang. The author has such a good ear, such a gift for catching the rhythms of everyday talky, funny rumination, his sentences as crammed with colourful know-how and telling detail as an old attic, or a passage from James Joyce. . . . It’s a Joycean gift indeed, to be able to catch the poetry of the flow of experience in characters who don’t cultivate their poetic sensibility.” —Tessa Hadley, The Guardian
“[A] major work of fiction by the writer who will probably be regarded, in a hundred years, as the leading Australian novelist from the early part of the twenty-first century.” —The Australian Book Review
A Long Way from Home, like most of Carey’s work, began with an abstract idea that he followed through logically, as if constructing an argument, but springs to life on the page as something loud and fleshy and hilarious. The characters ‘have to be farting and tap dancing’ as he puts it, and here, they are. Though he says he hadn’t particularly planned to make it ‘a laugh a minute all the way to the heart of darkness,’ that’s exactly what the novel delivers.” —Financial Times
“[A] pretty remarkable beast. It starts out appearing to be one sort of thing, then turns into another, then into still another. In that, it represents the Australia that is its ultimate subject—an Australia of violent transformations and concealed histories. . . . [A] wild, magical ride.” The Telegraph (five stars)
“[W]hat starts out feeling like a typical, jauntily whimsical Peter-Carey-by-numbers soon becomes something more complex and powerful. At the end of the novel, Bachhuber’s son recognizes that his father’s life had been spent wrestling with the problem of the ethical representation of a terrible historical wrong: how to ‘record the truth and keep the secret.’ Carey himself has achieved exactly this, in his best novel in years, maybe decades.” —The Guardian