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The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994)

by Peter Carey

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713731,888 (3.71)24
The first Penguin edition of Peter Carey's The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith, with a cover by Michael Leunig Severely afflicted, doomed never to be taller than three foot six, Tristan Smith faces death and danger from the first moment of his energetic and ambitious life. Here, for the first time, is the truth about him, from his birth in the Republic of Efica in the year 371 to the present day. When he goes on trial for multiple offences in Voorstand, a nation of rampaging global dominance, Tristan must plead his case to the very culture that has done for his own. Peter Carey's piercing allegory of imperialism is unmatched for originality and inventiveness.… (more)
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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Peter Carey is to literature what Terry Gilliam is to filmmaking. Carey creates densely detailed worlds while familiar at a first glance are askew from reality on a second glance. ( )
  pussreboots | Sep 6, 2014 |
AWESOME! Love this book ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
This is a very unusual story, which fortunately, is very well written.
When Tristan Smith is born, with deformities so severe people are repulsed when they look at him, he has three possible fathers, the handsome actor Bill, Wally the art director of the Feu Follet (Foo Follay) Circus which Tristan's mother owns and Vincent, whose wife is not Tristan's mother.
The story is based in the mythical country of Efica which is struggling to maintain it's identity against the cultural invasion of the neighbouring Voorstand.
We follow Tristan into young adulthood as he strives to achieve his dreams, supported by his unusual family. ( )
1 vote TheWasp | Nov 19, 2012 |
A departure from Jack Maggs; think Geek Love, maybe, or A Prayer for Owen Meany. ( )
1 vote sonyau | Jul 14, 2009 |
This book is an excellent read for anyone wanting to get the perspective of a society on the receiving end of imperialism and colonialism. It's a not-too-hidden take on a small country that has been colonized, culturally as well as physically, by a large superpower. Americans in particular would do well to read this to get a sense of the conflicting sentiments that American power and culture provokes in other societies.

The story itself is strange and wandering, but the overall effect is wonderful. ( )
1 vote sabreader | Sep 7, 2006 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Dedication
For Alison, Sam and Charley
First words
Mg name is Tristan Smith. I was born in Chemin Rouge in Efica - which is to say as much to you, I bet, as if I declared I was from the moon.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The first Penguin edition of Peter Carey's The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith, with a cover by Michael Leunig Severely afflicted, doomed never to be taller than three foot six, Tristan Smith faces death and danger from the first moment of his energetic and ambitious life. Here, for the first time, is the truth about him, from his birth in the Republic of Efica in the year 371 to the present day. When he goes on trial for multiple offences in Voorstand, a nation of rampaging global dominance, Tristan must plead his case to the very culture that has done for his own. Peter Carey's piercing allegory of imperialism is unmatched for originality and inventiveness.

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