Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in western Victoria. Together they enter the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the ancient continent over roads no car will ever quite survive.
With them is their lanky fair-haired navigator, Willie Bachhuber, a quiz show champion and failed schoolteacher whose job it is to call out the turns, the grids, the creek crossings on a map that will finally remove them, without warning, from the lily-white Australia they know so well.
This thrilling, high-speed story starts in one way and then takes you someplace else. It is often funny, the more so as the world gets stranger, and always a page-turner, even as you learn a history these characters never knew themselves. Set in the 1950s amid the consequences of the age of empires, this brilliantly vivid and lively novel reminds us how Europeans took possession of a timeless culture – the high purpose they invented and the crimes they committed along the way.
Peter Carey has twice won the Booker Prize for his explorations of Australian history. A Long Way from Home is his late-style masterpiece.