'When the boy was almost eight a woman stepped out of the elevator into the apartment on East 62nd Street and he recognized her straight away. It was the smell his heart knew - patchouli, jasmine, other stuff. .. That was pretty typical of growing up with Grandma Selkirk. No one would dream of saying, here is your mother returned to you. His Illegal Self is the story of Che. Raised in isolated privilege by his New York grandmother, he is the precocious son of radical student activists at Harvard in the late sixties. Yearning for his famous outlaw parents, denied all access to television and the news, he takes hope from his long haired teenage neighbour who predicts, They will come for you, man. They'll break you out of here.
'Soon Che too is an outlaw, fleeing down subways, abandoning seedy motels at night, he is pitched into a journey that leads him to a hippy commune in the jungle of tropical Queensland. Here he slowly, bravely, confronts his life, learning that nothing is what it seems. Who is his real mother? Was that his real father? If all he suspects is true, what should he do?' (Publisher's blurb)
'Peter Carey has said of his 2008 novel, His Illegal Self, that it grew from an image he recalled of a hippie mother and her son wandering along the edge of the Bruce Highway near Caboolture, and an American who arrived in his commune near Yandina who turned out to be a drug dealer wanted by the FBI. In typical Carey fashion, the three central characters in His Illegal Self are in the process of escaping from the narratives that have been imposed upon them, and metamorphosing into different and better selves. His Illegal Self is the first of Carey's books in which he reverses the angle of vision on the cross-cultural comparison of Australia and America that has engaged him throughout his career. This reverse comparison is set some thirty-five years in the past, against a background of the protest movements against the Vietnam War in both countries. Unlike several of his earlier novels, His Illegal Self lacks a pronounced sense of self-conscious storytelling, and this increases the direct emotional impact of the novel, intensifying the reader's empathy with the characters’ emergence from their imposed identities.'
'Peter Carey is one of the most remarkable writers of our day and age. The characters and narrators that populate his twisted postmodern and postcolonial plot structures are conceived as fakes and tricksters, monstrously distorted creatures and disturbed Antipodeans, struggling for possible meanings of life in the global fringes and beyond. Offering a critical analysis of terms such as liminality and transgression, this comparative study examines the intricate interweaving of faction in True History of the Kelly Gang, follows Christopher Chubb into the entanglements between the gnarled tropical trees of Malaysia and the dark recesses of the storyteller's mind in My Life as a Fake, and joins the Bones Brothers on their journey to Japan and the US in Theft: A Love Story, a book on art, integrity and complicity. Moreover, for the first time in a book-length study, His Illegal Self will be interpreted and placed in the context of ethical criticism and cosmopolitan theory.' (Source: Publisher website).