Book review: A Long Way from Home by Peter Carey


A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey ( first published in 2018 by Faber & Faber)

For some of us, the epic trek of the young protagonists in The Rabbit-Proof Fence is our strongest impression of the history of the Indigenous Australian people.

With his latest novel, Booker Prize-winning author Peter Carey delves into aspects of this history with the story of a very different journey: a long-distance car rally.

Carey explained in an interview with The Australian in October last year that it is because of his awareness of his limitations as a white writer that he has been hesitant until his mid-70s to address this chapter of the country’s history.

 “On the other hand, you can’t be a white Australian writer and spend our whole life ignoring the greatest, most important aspect of our history, and that is that we — I — have been the beneficiaries of a genocide.

“It’s a black story; it’s also a white story. I just thought, ‘I can’t spend my life not writing about this, and if I make a dick of myself, well I will but at least I’m going to have a try’.”

His story revolves around the friendship between neighbours: housewife Irene Bobbs and teacher Willie Bachhuber – suspended after losing his temper with a student.

They are the narrators and centre of this complex, unpredictable story. When Irene and her husband decide to enter a cross-country rally, Willie is invited to join them as a navigator.

The journey is tough, emotional and full of obstacles as Irene struggles against the prejudice that she faces as a female driver in the 1950s.

At the same time, Willie realises the truth about his own background as a mixed-race Australian and is drawn to discover more about the culture he was removed from as a child.

Carey’s unexpected, vivid and at times unsettling story is written with all the mastery of a writer with a lifetime of creative and critical success behind him. The characters and relationships are unforgettable, and their struggles will resonate with many.

Purchase a copy of the book from

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Do you think it's important to get married in this day and age?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's important in order to create a family unit and for companionship
22% - 692 votes
Not at all. Being single is far more liberating
9% - 285 votes
There is no general answer to this, it's each to their own
50% - 1570 votes
Yes, society still frowns on unmarried people, especially women
1% - 40 votes
It depends on whether you are able to find a compatible partner
18% - 562 votes