The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith
By Peter Carey
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679760368, 432pp.)
Publication Date: January 30, 1996
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From a writer whom Thomas Keneally calls "one of the great figures on the cusp of the millennium" comes a novel that conjures an entire world that suggests our own, but tilted on its axis—a world whose most powerful country, Voorstand, dominates its neighbors with ruthless espionage and its mesmerizing but soul-destroying Sirkus.
Into that world comes Tristan Smith, a malformed, heroically willful, and unforgivingly observant child. Tristan's life includes adventure and loss, political intrigue, and a bizarre stardom in the Voorstand Sirkus, where animals talk and human performers die real deaths. The result is a visionary picaresque, staggering in its inventions, spellbinding in its suspense, and unabashedly moving.
"Irresistible...intimate and theatrical...supple and surprising.... We're in the hands of a master storyteller." —Carol Shields, author of The Stone Diaries
"Carey has vaulted to the top ranks of writers in the English-speaking world.... Tristan has an appeal that transcends geography." —Newsday
"Carey's always magical, absolutely lovable narrative voice makes The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith an important contribution to contemporary fiction.... No matter what he decides to write or how he decides to write it, it's a priviledge to read him." —Carolyn See, Washington Post Book World
"Savage and hilarious...dazzling." —The New York Review of Books