This is a Booker Prize finalist from the 1980s, and I am left to wonder if maybe it doesn't age very well. I think it's supposed to be a grand statement about the spirit and character of Australia, with comedy and tragedy and everything in between and everything a little fantastical, too.
The general theme, i.e., lies and their value and what they say about the people who tell them and listen to them, is very intriguing. Unfortunately, a lot of the book doesn't really address it. You read on and on about improbable people doing improbable things in improbable ways, and then before you know it everyone's living in cages in a pet store. No, really. Maybe every 20 pages or so, you get a quick little flash of really insightful or beautiful text that you can't tie to the rest of it. The balance is off, for me. Or maybe it's just that I am not familiar enough with Australia to get all of the in jokes.
This is the only Peter Carey book I have read to date, but I get the impression that several of his other titles might have been a better place to start. I also cannot tell you how much I dislike the cover.
This book actually might be right up a lot of people's alleys, especially if those alleys are very literary and enjoy world fiction particularly, so don't write it off on my account.