Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2001
Ned Kelly’s name resonates in Australia the same way the name Jesse James does in America. Was he a crusading folk hero or murderous horse thief and bank robber? Who was the real Ned Kelly? As the impoverished son of an Irish convict, Kelly was cheated, lied to, and abused by the English. Committed to fighting back against oppression, Kelly and his gang of outlaws eluded police for nearly two years. Brilliantly novelized by Peter Carey, the story of the Kelly Gang unfolds from a series of 13 compassionate letters written, while on the run, by Kelly to his infant daughter. Building from this historical legend and testing our sympathies, Carey crafts a deeply humanistic piece of historical fiction, a tale of injustice and violence.