True History of the Kelly Gang

Peter Carey's novel takes place in 19th century Australia.

Peter Carey

Out of 19th century Australia rides a hero of his people and a man for all nations: Ned Kelly, the son of poor Irish immigrants, viewed by the authorities as a thief (especially of horses) and, as a cold-blooded killer. To the people, though, he was a patriot hounded unfairly by rich English landlords and their stooges.

In the end, Kelly and his so-called gang (his younger brother and two friends) led a massive police manhunt on a wild goose chase that lasted twenty months, in which Ned's talents as a bushman were augmented by bank robberies and the support of nearly everyone not in a uniform. His one demand — for which he would have surrendered himself was his jailed mother's freedom.

Executed by hanging more than a century ago, speaking as if from the grave, Kelly still resonates as the most potent legend in the land down under. (From Knopf Random Vintage Canada)


Australian novelist Peter Carey spoke with Eleanor Wachtel in 2001 about his second Man Booker Prize-winning novel, True History of the Kelly Gang. 52:23
The two-time Booker Prize-winner examines the legacy of colonialism in Australia through a 1950's cross-country car race in his new novel A Long Way From Home. 16:13