Literary Steal of Approval

Fakery is unbecoming to an artist. Indeed, counterfeiting another's creativity is anathema to any honest painter or writer. With his previous novel, Peter Carey took that idea and gave it a macabre twist. In My Life as a Fake, he reimagined Australia's infamous Ern Malley affair - the 1944 literary hoax played by antimodernists Harold Stewart and James McAuley, who posed as a dead working-class poetic "genius" - by bringing a fabricated identity to life to haunt its creator. The novel's sprawling narrative was as gin-soaked and overripe as its Kuala Lumpur setting, but Carey's theme was sobering: how can we...

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