His Illegal Self by Peter Carey

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 16 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

Seven-year-old Che Selkirk was raised in isolated privilege by his New York grandmother. The son of radical student activists at Harvard in the late sixties, Che has grown up with the hope that one day his parents will come back for him. So when a woman arrives at his front door and whisks him away to the jungles of Queensland, he is confronted with the most important questions of his life: Who is his real mother? Did he know his real father? And if all he suspects is true, what should he do? In this artful tale of a young boy's journey, His Illegal Self lifts your spirit in the most unexpected way.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Peter Carey

See more books from this Author
PETER CAREY is the author of eleven previous novels and has twice received the Booker Prize. His other honors include the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Born in Australia, he has lived in New York City for twenty years.
 
Published February 5, 2008 by Vintage. 290 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for His Illegal Self

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Whatever the relation between the two, a bond develops between Che and the captor/rescuer he has been told to call “Dial.” As the novel’s perspective shifts between the two characters, it appears that Dial has little more idea than Che what is going on.

| Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

goddess,” Dial has just become an assistant professor in the English department at Vassar, but she’s still caught in the ideological web of the Movement, “although what the Movement was by 1972 depended on whom you were talking to.” As the boy looks at the unknown woman, “adoringly,” giving her “...

Feb 10 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

And he also shows how isolation and necessity force Che and Dial to depend upon each other, and how that need gradually evolves into affection, and that affection into a kind of love, as Dial grapples with the realization that she must return Che to his real life and make plans for doing so witho...

Feb 05 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

Occasionally, the story is told from her side - 'her mother would have died to see her genius in a dump like this' - but in the main it is Che who gives it to us: the adventure turned to muddle, the prison fled, only to be replaced with another, less comfortable cell.

Jan 20 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey 300pp, Faber, £16.99 The narrator of Peter Carey's new novel usually calls the boy at its centre "the boy".

Feb 02 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

And so into this variegated fray that takes in Oscar and Lucinda, Theft, True History of the Kelly Gang and more, comes His Illegal Self, a taut and seamlessly cohesive novel about “how beautiful and strange the world is” for American academic Anna Xenos, nicknamed Dial (for “dialectic”), drunk o...

Feb 13 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

It isn’t just the love — both real and imagined — between Che and Dial, but also the odd love circulating uncomfortably between Dial, Che’s father, and the self-sufficient "hippy" Trevor who they meet in Australia.

Jan 30 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

Book Reporter

Beyond the hut, behind the car, the lonely darkness was bleeding along the course of Remus Creek and washing up into the muggy hills.” When Trevor and Dial enlist an Australian lawyer of questionable competence in a plan to return Ché to his grandmother, the life they’ve been living in the rugge...

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

Entertainment Weekly

Is Peter Carey's intermittently lovely novel, His Illegal Self, an account of a heinous kidnapping?

Feb 08 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

The Bookbag

Carey, who lived on a commune himself, uses his direct experience to bring us a convincing, visceral picture of life in direct contact with the earth (even, at one stage, living literally underground).

Oct 24 2009 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Che and Dial are picked up by two ne'er-do-wells in a Ford full of funk: "Inside?were smells which the boy could not have named or untangled," Carey writes, "long wisps of WD-40 and marijuana, floating threads of stuff associated with freaks who made their own repairs, dandelion chains of dust an...

Feb 07 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

Bookmarks Magazine

… Mr. Carey never offers any remotely plausible reason for why Dial, who has just been made an assistant professor at Vassar, would decide to kidnap Che and flee to Australia."

Apr 23 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

Austin Chronicle

The narrative switches points of view, from Che to Dial, as Dial, fresh from being appointed to the faculty of the English Department at Vassar College, picks Che up from his grandmother's elaborate Park Avenue apartment, under strict orders to deliver him to his infamous mother for a one-hour "p...

Feb 29 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

The New York Review of Books

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.

Mar 20 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

New York Magazine

It’s hard to know, therefore, whether to blame Carey or his characters for all the bad writing: clichés (“tight as a drum”), awkward similes (“The kitten was afraid, his mouth as wide and pink as dentistry”), maddening vagueness (“His shoulders were sort of round,” “her eyes sort of soft,” “with ...

Feb 18 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

New York Magazine

(I realize this is a trivial complaint, but the novel rivals the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series in its mind-numbing capacity to repeat ridiculous names—there’s also a minor character named Jean Rabiteau whom the narrator insists on calling “John the Rabbitoh.”) In a series of rapidly e...

Feb 10 2008 | Read Full Review of His Illegal Self

Reader Rating for His Illegal Self
55%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 37 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×