A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
Peter Carey’s 14th novel begins in familiar style, as a superbly entertaining “picaresque caper-cum-romance”, said Andrew Dickson in the Financial Times. In 1950s Australia, a married couple named “Titch” and Irene Bobs decide to enter the country’s “most infamous and gruelling car race”, the Redex Trial, to drum up publicity for their new car showroom. The race requires participants to travel 10,000 miles in 17 days. This set-up allows Carey both to revisit his car-mad boyhood (his own parents owned a dealership) and to deploy his talent for evoking Australia’s landscape.
Unexpectedly “enthralling” as the motoring scenes are, A Long Way from Home ends up being about something very different, said Tessa Hadley in The Guardian: it turns into a “journey inwards”, exploring the nation’s crimes against its indigenous people (a subject Carey has previously avoided in his fiction). Sadly, this transition causes the novel’s energy to “lapse”. “Terrible truths” are best approached in fiction by means of “wary circumspection”, not via the “outraged explication” of the novel’s final pages.