A LONG WAY FROM HOME, by Peter Carey, Hamish Hamilton/ Penguin.
In an author’s note, Carey describes his
14th novel as “the one I spent my whole life not knowing how to write”. It’s his reckoning with race – an exploration of what it means to be a white Australian – though told with such bounce and humour the seriousness of intent never weighs down his story of a crosscontinent car race, the Redex Trial, set in the 1950s. It starts in Bacchus Marsh, as car salesman Titch Bobs and his speed-freak wife recruit their neighbour as navigator. They’re all mad as snakes and everything that can go wrong does, with bizarre consequences. Period details range from Wobbly Hour, when the beer taps turn off, to the Maralinga bomb tests. Think a high-rev Illywhacker on wheels, both thoughtful and fun.