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Amnesia

by Peter Carey

When Gaby Baillieux releases the Angel Worm into the computers of Australia’s prison system, hundreds of asylum seekers walk free. Worse: an American corporation runs prison security, so the malware infects some 5000 American places of incarceration. Doors spring open. Both countries’ secrets threaten to pour out.

Was this American intrusion a mistake, or had Gaby declared cyberwar on the US? Felix Moore – known to himself as ‘Australia’s last serving left-wing journalist’ – has no doubt. Her act was part of the covert conflict between Australia and America. That conflict dates back to the largely forgotten Battle of Brisbane in 1943, forwards to the secret CIA station near Alice Springs, and has as its most outrageous act the coup of 1975. Funded by his property-developer mate Woody Townes, Felix is going to write Gaby’s biography, to save her, and himself, and maybe his country.

But how to get Gaby to co-operate? What role does her film-star mother have to play? And what, after all, does Woody really want?

Amnesia is Carey at his best: dark, funny, exhilarating. It is a novel that speaks powerfully about our history but most urgently about our present.

 

‘Never have I read a novel in which I could see the genius of the writer’s mind so phenomenally at work. Melbourne and the Australian language have never been so celebrated. I laughed and laughed, too.’  Carmen Callil

‘I couldn’t believe I was so caught by the throat by a story about malware and cyberspace and sabotage . . . but it’s also about a dark stain of political history, about a mother and daughter, about power and brutality, about being young and furious. I thought Felix Moore in all his humanness, messiness and determination, was a masterpiece of character-making.’  Hermione Lee

Amnesia is a raucous meditation on dissent . . . An ambitious novel that possesses some of the energy and thrilling abandon of Carey’s early works, including his short stories. It stands firm in ways reminiscent of Illywhacker . . . Carey is a writer who seems to want to celebrate, as much as to castigate, human flaws. He is sardonic and withering, but somehow optimistic. In Amnesia, the world is insidious and magnificent . . . Amnesia is both familiar and a distinctly new moment in his career.’  Patrick Allington, Australian Book Review

‘The story of WikiLeaks as if transmogrified by Dickens and turned into a thrilling fable for our post-Edward Snowden era.’  Luke Harding, The Guardian

‘The novel is a wild ride . . . Carey is Australia’s lyrebird master of dialogue, perfectly tuned to every nuance, or upward intonation, of successive generations of Australian speech . . . Effortlessly lyrical.’  Morag Fraser, The Age

‘The novel sizzles with indignation. But this isn’t its only mood. Often rumbustiously funny, it has an almost Dickensian zest for colourful characters. Scenes of the cyber-underworld and its bizarre obsessives buzz with fascination . . . Metaphorical vitality pulses through Carey’s prose.’  Peter Kemp, SundayTimes (UK)

”Carey . . . has an uncanny knack of timeliness… [Amnesia is] a political novel in the way of E.L. Doctorow . . . a rambunctious cavalcade . . . Carey is Australia’s lyrebird master of dialogue . . . a remarkable novelist.’  The Saturday Age

‘The lively 13th novel from the Australian magus Peter Carey that will leave the mind reeling. It is tremendous fun, a satiric burlesque as fast as a speeding car, barbed as only Carey can be, seething with benign rage and as black as reality . . . His inventive unpredictability is part of his appeal. The narrative energy of Amnesia is impressive, as are his brilliant handling of the many voices and his always fluent prose . . . Amnesia contains some of the sharpest characterisation Carey has written . . . Amnesia is blunt and funny, brave and outspoken . . . Carey says a great deal in an entertaining, provocative novel, weighty with polemical intent, yet he never forgets to tell a story that is as large as life and as exuberantly complicated . . . If fiction can summon the now, this novel has.’  Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

Amnesia is hilarious. You know Carey’s on about some dreadful stuff but you can’t help laughing.’  William Yeoman, West Australian

‘Possesses . . . the energy and thrilling abandon of Carey’s early works . . . . a distinctly new moment in his career.’  Australian Book Review

‘Bracing and abrasive . . . A novel about the new American empire and its repercussions around the world, about technology and, most movingly, about family. It is slippery and compelling, written with the vivid precision that marks Mr Carey’s best work.’  The Economist

‘A very funny book . . . Carey at the height of his powers . . . [He] doesn’t put a word or sentence in the wrong place . . . Amnesia is the novel for our times.’  Mark Rubbo, Readings Monthly

‘The book begins and ends in high-octane thriller mode with spectacular feats of cyberterrorism . . . Utterly captivating in its energy, its eye for the telling detail of character or location, its sudden arresting turns of phrase, its vivid and tender pictures of our places.’ Katharine England, The Advertiser (Adelaide)

‘Turbo-charged, hyperenergetic . . . Carey’s book is whirling and intricate, yet such is the excitement of the writing, we take the ride very gladly . . . Like many of Carey’s books, Amnesia generates an aura of the fantastical but is completely grounded; it is high-spirited but serious, hectic but never hasty . . . A deeply engaging book. It responds to some of the biggest issues of our time, and reminds us that no other contemporary novelist is better able to mix farce with ferocity, or to better effect.’  Andrew Motion, The Guardian

‘Felix is a brilliant character: witty and paranoid with a Carey-esque backstory . . . The heights of Amnesia are that glorious Carey way with language.’  The Saturday Paper

Amnesia is exhilaratingly suffused with Carey’s wild prodigality of invention . . . Glitters with nervy verbal inventiveness and pungent characterization . . . Poignantly human — and with a tremendous story to tell.’  Jane Shilling, Evening Standard

‘Peter Carey is such a varied and intriguing novelist there are times when it seems he can write anything . . . Curiously exhilarating.’  James Runcie, The Independent

‘Peter Carey is back in Australia with a bang . . . It’s funny, manic; so charged with energy that each sentence packs a punch – and reminds you that, at 71, Carey remains a wizard with words.’  Jennifer Byrne, Australian Women’s Weekly

‘This oh-so-relevant rage against the machine is Carey at his clever best.’  Paul Robinson, Qantas magazine

‘The brilliant Australian author explores digital activism, legacy journalism, US political interference and Australia’s collective forgetfulness about its past in this probing but rollicking novel . . . A searingly topical tale . . . Amnesia crackles with energy, is inventive in its language (not least in its profanities) but never pretentious, emphasising the value of straight talking and laughter.’  Express(UK)

‘A rollicking read.’  Courier-Mail


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About Peter Carey

Peter Carey is the multi-award-winning author of thirteen novels, plus two highly acclaimed collections of short stories and a memoir, Wrong About Japan. His books have won or been short-listed for every major literary award in Australia. He has won the Booker Prize twice - in 2001 for True History of the Kelly Gang and in 1988 for Oscar And Lucinda. In 1998 he won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Jack Maggs, and again in 2001 for True History of the Kelly Gang. He has won the Miles Franklin Literary Award three times (for BlissOscar and Lucinda and Jack Maggs) Born in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Peter Carey now lives in New York.  



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