Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carey's Ned Kelly

Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang, 2000. This Booker Prize winner is about the real-life outlaw Ned Kelly, a Jesse James of the outback of Victoria, Australia in the late 19th century. It is full of action and contains fine passages set in the wilderness. Both the vernacular speech and the inner monologue of the title character are excellently done. The Irish identity of Kelly and his family, and the economic and legal injustices to which poor "transported" Irish were subjected by the colonial authorities, are among the real subjects of the book. Ned is a stubborn enough force of nature to hold our sympathy without heroics. Carey's Australian contribution to the outlaw genre is an instant classic.

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