Amnesia

Amnesia

By Peter Carey

In Amnesia Peter Carey, 'the greatest Australian writer' (Richard Flanagan), asks the most vital question of the past seventy years: Has America taken us over?

In Amnesia Peter Carey, 'the greatest Australian writer' (Richard Flanagan), asks the most vital question of the past seventy years: Has America taken us over?

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 1942, 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.

'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, Sunday Times (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

‘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

‘Few living writers put down one sentence after another as skilfully as [Carey] does and Amnesia, which takes the Dismissal as its backdrop, is no exception.’ Stephen Romei, Weekend 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)

'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

'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

‘Peter Carey has the enviable knack of tapping into the Zeitgeist even as events are playing out . . . As ever, Carey wants us to consider the ramifications of the world we allow to be constructed.’ Simon Hughes, Australian Financial Review

'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 has a penchant for writing about historical facts that impact on the present day, and Amnesia is no different. It is a novel that deals with past and present American and Australian relations and the desire to make one's mark in the world. It's a political thriller that draws you in and leaves you wanting more.’ Lisa Coady, Law Society Journal

'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

‘Felix Moore is like the love child of Bob Ellis and John Pilger . . . and he is the beating heart of this fabulous Peter Carey novel, which is in the tradition of the Booker-nominated Illywhacker – one of his greatest storytelling feats. It celebrates and illuminates Australia . . . Spellbinding . . . A great, great read.’ South Coast Register

‘A rollicking read.’ Courier-Mail

‘Carey so masterfully and, as always, quite unexpectedly takes us into a brand new labyrinth of characters and circumstance.’ Michael Byrne, Newcastle Herald

‘There is much fun to be had in reading this book. It’s Peter Carey at his most playful, up there with Parrot and Olivier in America and Illywhacker with prose that sparkles and storytelling panache by the bucketload . . . Boy, can he write a memorable sentence.’ Fred Negro, Melbourne.Arts.Fashion

‘Great journalism and great fiction both live in the gap between noble ideas and flawed human beings. The saga of Wikileaks certainly dwells there, and so does this Australian two-time Booker-winner’s best work — including this drama-farce of history and hacktivism . . . Real and fictive history unfolds and fragments, people are kidnapped and freed, conspiracies are unveiled, and full-fleshed characters make it work. It’s just as ambitious and urgent as it sounds, but more fun.’ New York 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.’ Jake Kerridge, The Express (UK)

‘Australia’s greatest living writer.’ David Robinson, The Scotsman

‘A sharp riposte to those who say fiction can’t cope with the cyber age. Just as Kelly Gang found its author immersed in Australian vernacular, here he is deep into the arcane language and hardware of hackers and coders.’ Paul Dunn, The Times (UK)

Format & Editions

Paperback

9780143572695

March 25, 2015

Penguin (AU Adult)

RRP $22.99

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EBook

9781743484258

October 14, 2014

Penguin eBooks (AU Adult)

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Also by Peter Carey

Awards & Recognition

2015

Indie Award

Shortlisted

2015

Prime Minister's Literary Award

Shortlisted