I received this book as a gift for Christmas. I have a very ambivalent attitude to Peter Carey, but this was a joyful read, so I’m taking the opportunity to plug it here.
Set in 1972 Kuala Lumpur (back in the days when Jalan Dang Wangi was still Jalan Campbell) and redolent with Malay slang (although nothing too bohdoh), this is the story of a literary hoax gone horribly awry. It’s made all the more intriguing by being told from the perspectives of a tangled nest of unreliable narrators, so it’s not so much a whodunnit as a he-dun-what. It’s partly a true story, it’s partly Frankenstein (there’s a quote from Mary Shelley at the start of the novel), it’s partly a pursuit-caper, and it’s partly a literary mystery (even after you’ve finished it: don’t expect any neat plot-twists and well-that-explains-everything moments).
Carey amusingly subverts some old, established stereotypes too, such as the eccentric comedy Indian… who turns out to be something entirely darker and more sinister.
Anyone who appreciates the good-natured bedlam of Malaysia will enjoy reading this. Highly recommended!