Synopses & Reviews
From the two-time Booker Prize-winning author and recipient of the Commonwealth Prize comes this new novel about obsession, deception, and redemption, at once an engrossing psychological suspense story and a work of highly charged, fiendishly funny literary fiction.
Michael a.k.a. "Butcher" Boone is an ex-"really famous" painter: opinionated, furious, brilliant, and now reduced to living in the remote country house of his biggest collector and acting as caretaker for his younger brother, Hugh, a damaged man of imposing physicality and childlike emotional volatility. Alone together they've forged a delicate and shifting equilibrium, a balance instantly destroyed when a mysterious young woman named Marlene walks out of a rainstorm and into their lives on three-inch Manolo Blahnik heels. Beautiful, smart, and ambitious, she's also the daughter-in-law of the late great painter Jacques Liebovitz, one of Butcher's earliest influences. She's sweet to Hugh and falls in love with Butcher, and they reciprocate in kind. And she sets in motion a chain of events that could be the making or the ruin of them all.
Told through the alternating points of view of the brothers Butcher's urbane, intelligent, caustic observations contrasting with Hugh's bizarre, frequently poetic, utterly unique voice Theft reminds us once again of Peter Carey's remarkable gift for creating indelible, fascinating characters and a narrative as gripping as it is deliriously surprising.
"Two-time Booker-winner Carey (Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang) returns with a magnificent high-stakes art heist wrapped around a fraternal saga. Butcher Boone is an all-id all-the-time Australian painter of enormous talent and renown. Now divorced and bankrupted by his former wife, who tired of his excesses, Butcher has been reduced to caretaking a remote estate for his largest collector. And since the deaths of his working-class parents, he has also been saddled with his beloved, bedeviling brother, Hugh, who, like Butcher, has a primarily pugilistic relationship with the world. One rain-flooded night, a chic young woman knocks on their door, having lost her way. She is Marlene, wife of Olivier Leibovitz, son and heir to an early 20th-century master. Soon the brothers are embroiled in an international crime investigation that eventually comprises forgery, vast sums of money and murder. None of this, however, distracts Butcher from his overpowering love affair with Marlene, which threatens to leave Hugh stranded in an unforgiving world. Scenes in Australia, Japan and New York feature unique forms of fleecing, but setting and action are icing on the emotional core of Carey's newest masterwork. 75,000 announced first printing. (May 12)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] feisty ironic comedy....[I]t's the author's mastery of details of artists' lives and the racy energy of his prose that make this edgy, irreverent, often hilariously profane novel soar....Is the endlessly inventive Carey on the Nobel shortlist? He ought to be." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Carey is at his satirical best as he mocks the venality of the international art market, and at his most tender in his spirited portrayal of daring misfits who fled the confines of working-class life 'half mad with joy' once they discovered the transformative power of art." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Sharply observed, well written, and acerbically witty, this book will only further Carey's reputation." Library Journal
"It's vibrant, it's colorful, but what the hell is going on?...Carey frames a story that shifts before our eyes maddeningly complex, hypnotically brilliant, entirely original." Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World
"An Aussie author with a gleefully dark sense of humor and a gift for dialogue that is improvisational, but precise, Carey finds a wealth of material on the disputed boundary between art and commerce." Denver Post
"It's not just the story, which is a roller coaster, or the characters, each of whom is so memorable, but the sheer physicality of Carey's writing that makes Theft so good. Read it. You won't be disappointed." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[A] vivid and beautiful portrait of how art is actually made....Carey captures the tidal wash of an artist's narcissism...and the strange process by which all this becomes not just an object of art and expression but a commodity." Philadelphia Inquirer
"[U]nsettling and erratic....Some say there is no such thing as a new idea, but how much this one embodied in Theft is worth ultimately depends on your desire for truth, and the value you place on originality." San Francisco Chronicle
"[A]n interesting but uneven mix of novel and thesis....[I]t is all very well for a novelist to set up the figure of an artist of genius, even with a wink or two; but it's much harder to give a reader reasons for believing it." Boston Globe
"Freshly imagined, cunningly plotted, engagingly written, Theft is the kind of novel only an abundantly gifted artist, and one serious about his craft, could produce." San Jose Mercury News
"A complete, compelling and satisfying tale, Theft is made doubly rewarding by these fraternal narrators, who lend the novel a stunning degree of humanity and authenticity." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Carey tells this rollicking story in his trademark roller-coaster style, hurtling the reader forward in delirious, helter-skelter fashion while flaunting the degree to which he is making it all up on the fly." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"[T]he novel truly sings..." New York Times
"The strength of Theft lies in its narrative voice and in Carey's delight in his subject. The two-time Booker winner is clearly enjoying himself..." Christian Science Monitor
About the Author
Peter Carey is the author of nine novels, including the Booker Prizewinning Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang. Born in Australia in 1943, he now lives in New York City.
Review A Day
could be seen as a companion piece to My Life as a Fake
, and fans of Fake
will rejoice in Theft
. Carey's dazzling prose is energetic as ever, narrated by the unreliable and the highly neurotic....The art world is skewered mercilessly, the ego of the artist hilariously portrayed, and yet the creative act and the resulting work (whatever that may be Carey is not keeping himself to painting exclusively) is treated with passionate respect." Georgie Lewis, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
"[I]nsanely readable....Carey, the author of Oscar and Lucinda
and True History of the Kelly Gang
, writes convincingly of painters and painting, with careful attention to color, brushstroke, process....Theft
showcases animated, hilarious, jewel-encrusted prose, and it is motored by some good old-fashioned storytelling." Anna Godbersen, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review