Books: Sympathy for An Outlaw

Peter Carey brings Australia's legendary Ned Kelly vibrantly to life

Australian Peter Carey, 57, has built a distinguished career out of offbeat, risk-taking novels. His Oscar and Lucinda (1988), which won Britain's Booker Prize, portrayed two improbable 19th century Aussie dreamers obsessed with the notion of hauling a glass church across the outback. In Jack Maggs (1998), Carey produced an engaging variation on Dickens' Great Expectations. And he is up to new tricks in True History of the Kelly Gang (Knopf; 352 pages; $25), which purports to be a first-person narrative written by Ned Kelly, the outlaw who terrorized and enchanted Australians during the 1870s and who remains something of a...

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