His Illegal Self is a little book in the way that raspberries or bees or nuggets of uranium are little. It is shorter than Peter Carey’s best-known books, Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang, both of which are epics of almost uncanny originality set in the nineteenth century, and both of which won the Booker Prize. The new novel takes place in the more recent past, the early 1970s, and unlike much of Carey’s previous work, which is exhilarating in its scope, His Illegal Self is exhilarating partly because the depth of field has narrowed so dramatically. Reading this novel, Carey’s tenth, is like peering at the human heart, at the world itself, through the distorted precision of a magnifying glass—one carried in the pocket of a seven-year-old boy. Carey’s characters are often accidental outlaws. In His Illegal Self, the adventurer and outlaw is a child.
more from the NYRB here.