BLISS book cover   Bliss
Peter Carey

Cover illustration by Andizej Klimowski

Dustjacket synopsis:

"Peter Carey's hero is a happy innocent; he remembers his childhood as a Vision Splendid, indulges his wife and children, and is universally regarded as a Good Bloke. Then he dies - only for nine minutes, it's a heart attack - and wakes up in Hell. His wife is unfaithful, his partner's a rat, his son pushes drugs, his daughter sells herself, his advertising company promotes products that cause cancer.

"Against these torments Carey provides a saviour: hippy Honey Barbara, pantheist, healer, whore. Honey is to Harry as Isis is to Osiris. Together they conquer Hell and retire to the forest where their children inherit the legend of paradise regained..."

"Peter Carey's first novel is even better than we might have expected, a sustained and sardonic fable on the folly of being wise" - New Statesman
"A glittering style and an acerbic wit...Peter Carey shows his command of black humour and modern fable" The Times
"An imaginative blend of realism and fantasy...a very good novel indeed" - Daily Telegraph
"A political novel of a very original sort. Carey writes with dazzling comic flair" - Time Out
"A marvel to 'hell' of a good book and undoubtedly the most remarkable Australian novel to be published this year" - The Weekend Australian

First Paragraph:

Harry Joy was to die three times, but it was his first death which was to have the greatest effect on him, and it is this first death which we shall now witness.

There is Harry Joy lying in the middle of that green suburban lawn, beneath that tattered banana tree, partly obscured by the frangipani, which even now drops a single sweet flower beside his slightly grey face.

As usual Harry is wearing a grubby white suit, and as he lies there, quite dead, his blue braces are visible to all the world and anyone can see that he has sewn on one of the buttons himself rather than ask his wife. He has a thin face and at the moment it looks peaceful enough. It is only the acute angles struck by his long gangling limbs which announce the suddenness of his departure. His cheeks are slightly sunken, and his large moustache (a moustache far too big for such a thin face) covers his mouth and leaves its expression as enigmatic as ever. His straight grey hair, the colour of an empty ashtray, hangs over one eye. And, although no one seems to have noticed it, a cigarette still burns between two yellowed fingers, like some practical joke known to raise the dead.

From the Picador paperback edition, 1994.

This novel was the winner of the Miles Franklin Award in 1981.
Bliss was adapted into a film of the same title in 1985, directed by Ray Lawrence, featuring Barry Otto.

This page and its contents are copyright © 1997-2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: November 15, 2001.