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Author Podcast: Peter Carey

abstract:For this week's BookBuffet podcast we got to thinking about the subject of democracy. World news reports failing economies, scam elections and repressive fanatical regimes. Whatever happened to the temple of democracy? Shockingly the bastion countries around the world that we consider exemplars of this form of government are themselves facing a decline on the "Democracy Index" compiled bi-yearly by the Economist magazine research arm. It's not because of any new ultra right or left wing parties gaining power; it's due to public apathy [in the UK and USA] over their democratic rights: the right to vote as well as the "homeland security" initiatives instigated by both countries in response to terrorism. You will now be photographed over 1,000 times a day on the streets of London by closed circuit cameras, and despite President Obama's efforts to reverse the Bush administration's executive infringements to the civil rights act, a dappled cloud of paranoia remains. Since we are a literary site, we wanted to take a look at who has been writing novels that deal with this topic. I had to look no further than two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey. Peter talks about his latest novel Parrot and Olivier in America published by (Knopfdoubleday, 2010) which is based on Alex De Tocqueville's classic tomb on democracy, Democracy in America (Penguin Classics), which Carey says, "All my clever friends quote Tocqueville and pretend to have read all the way through America in high school or college, but they've really only skipped through the good bits. If you read through it, you see how a man of Tocqueville's background dealt with the times and reasoned how this form of government would fare through to the future." Parrot and Oliver is a riff on Tocqueville wrapped up in an imagined love story. Watch this excellent interview with GRANTA editor John Freeman. And don't forget to browse our previous podcasts, both homegrown and borrowed.


August 20, 2010



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