Peter Carey Watch #12

News of Parrot and Olivier in America

As seems usual these days, Carey's next novel will have a staggered publication schedule across Australia, the UK and the US, with different covers in each region.

The Australian edition will be published by Penguin on 26th October. Their description of the book:

parrot_and_oliver_aus.jpg     Olivier is a young aristocrat, one of an endangered species born in France just after the Revolution. Parrot, the son of an itinerant English printer, wanted to be an artist but has ended up in middle age as a servant.

When Olivier sets sail for the New World - ostensibly to study its prisons, but in reality to avoid yet another revolution - Parrot is sent with him, as spy, protector, foe and foil. Through their adventures with women and money, incarceration and democracy, writing and painting, they make an unlikely pair. But where better for unlikely things to flourish than in the glorious, brand-new experiment, America?

A dazzlingly inventive reimagining of Alexis de Tocqueville's famous journey, Parrot and Olivier in America brilliantly evokes the Old World colliding with the New. Above all, it is a wildly funny, tender portrait of two men who come to form an almost impossible friendship, and a completely improbable work of art.

The UK edition will be published by Faber & Faber on 4th February 2010. The publisher's blurb from Amazon UK reads:

Olivier is a French aristocrat, the traumatized child of survivors of the Revolution. Parrot the son of an itinerant printer who always wanted to be an artist but has ended up a servant. Born on different sides of history, their lives will be brought together by their travels in America. When Olivier sets sail for the New World, ostensibly to study its prisons but in reality to save his neck from one more revolution -- Parrot is sent with him, as spy, protector, foe and foil. As the narrative shifts between the perspectives of Parrot and Olivier, and their picaresque travels together and apart - in love and politics, prisons and the world of art -- Peter Carey explores the adventure of American democracy, in theory and in practice, with dazzling wit and inventiveness.
The US edition will be available on 20th April 2010 from Random House. The Amazon US blurb reads:
From the two-time Booker Prize-winning author: an irrepressibly funny new novel set in early-nineteenth-century America.

Olivier -- an improvisation on the life of Alexis de Tocqueville -- is the traumatized child of aristocratic survivors of the French Revolution. Parrot is the motherless son of an itinerant English engraver. They are born on different sides of history, but their lives will be joined by an enigmatic one-armed marquis.

When Olivier sets sail for the nascent United States--ostensibly to make a study of the penal system, but more precisely to save his neck from one more revolution--Parrot will be there, too: as spy for the marquis, and as protector, foe, and foil for Olivier.

As the narrative shifts between Parrot and Olivier--their adventures in love and politics, prisons and finance, homelands and brave new lands--a most unlikely friendship begins to take hold. And with their story, Peter Carey explores the adventure of American democracy with dazzling inventiveness, and with all the richness and surprise of characterization, story, and language that we have come to expect from this superlative writer.

An excerpt of this novel will be published in Granta 108: Chicago. Which seemed to amuse Victoria Lautman who asked Granta editor John Freeman how it came to be included.

Review of His Illegal Self

Although this review by Janette Turner Hospital was originally published in February 2008, it seems to have become available on The Monthly website just recently: "The strength and beauty of Carey's novel lies in the perspective of his very young protagonist. Che is bewildered, frightened, vulnerable, wise, completely loveable. His grandmother, protectively, had banned both TV and newspapers from his universe, so Che has had to assemble his history and his identity from overheard fragments and from furtively collected newspaper clippings."

Review of My Life as a Fake

The "Fantasy and SiFi Fiction" weblog is a bit in two minds about the book, calling it "a strange, multi-layered journey through a man's past, his artistic inspiration and his products, both illusory and real." And later: "Overall the pace of the book is varied and, here and there, one feels that Peter Carey has over-complicated things and thus detracted from the directness that could have achieved increased impact."


Carey talks to John Freeman of Granta magazine but his upcoming novel in a video interview.


In my last "Peter Carey Watch" I mentioned that Melbourne composer Brett Dean was working on an opera based on Carey's novel Bliss. "The Financial Times" is now reporting that Dean has premiered some of the components of that opera at the Cabrillo Music Festival, in Santa Cruz, California. And "The Age" is reporting that Opera Australia will take the opera to the Edinburgh Festival in 2010.

While not about Carey directly, this history of the Faber & Faber publishing house does mention him; referring to the author as one of the "big bankers for the publisher".

In case you keep track of these things, a signed, first-edition of The Big Bazoohley was auctioned recently on eBay for $US24, and a signed, first-edition of Tristran Smith is currently running at $56.53.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 1, 2009 9:57 PM.

Parallel-Importation Restrictions on Books was the previous entry in this blog.

Reprint: "The Banjo's" Poems is the next entry in this blog.

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