"Illywhacker is such an astonishing novel, of such major proportions, that before saying anything else one must record gratitude for its existence." - Geoffrey Dutton, Bulletin
"The finest and funniest picaresque novel yet written in Australia" - Peter Pierce National Times
"A great tottering tower of a novel which stands up astonishingly against all the odds." - Victoria Glendinning, London Sunday Times
"It is impossible to convey in a review the cumulative brilliance and accelerating hilarity of the prose." - Nicholas Spice, London Review of Books
"Awesome breadth, ambition and downright narrative joy...Illywhacker is a triumph." - Curt Suplee, Washington Post
"A sprawling, inventive and deeply absorbing saga...It is also one of the funniest, most vividly depicted, most entertainingly devious and bitterly insightful pieces of fiction to be published in recent years." - Alida Becker Newsday
My name is Herbert Badgery. I am a hundred and thirty-nine years old and something of a celebrity. They come and look at me and wonder how I do it. There are weeks when I wonder the same, whole stretches of terrible time. It is hard to believe you can feel so bad and still not die.
I am a terrible liar and I have always been a liar. I say that early to set things straight. Caveat emptor. My age is the one fact you can rely on, and not because I say so, but because it has been publicly authenticated. Independent experts have poked me and prodded me and scraped around my foul-smelling mouth. They have measured my ankles and looked at my legs. It is a relief not to worry about my legs any more. When they photographed me I did not care that my dick looked as scabby and scaly as a horse's, even though there was a time when I was a vain man and would not have permitted the type of photographs they chose to take. Apart from this (and it is all there, neatly printed on a chart not three feet from where I lie) I have also been written up in the papers. Don't imagine this is a novelty to me - being written up has been one of my weaknesses and I don't mention it now so that I may impress you, but rather to make the point that I am not lying about my age.
From the UQP paperback edition, 1988.
Illywhacker was short-listed for the 1985 Booker Prize, and won the Victorian Premier's Award and The Age Book of the Year Award.
This page and its contents are copyright © 1997-2002 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Peter Carey Page.
Last modified: March 28, 2002.