Punctuation and grammar went AWOL as Peter Carey became just the second novelist to win the prize twice, with an inventive and challenging take on the story of the outlaw Ned Kelly.
Carey’s novel purports to be the testament of the Australian ne’er-do-well Ned Kelly – an account of his upbringing, life and crimes. To capture Kelly’s Irish-convict-Ocker heritage, Carey invented his own vernacular (based on a bona fide Kelly text, the ‘Jerilderie Letter’) and jettisoned commas altogether and most grammatical rules too.
The inventiveness won over the critics. This was also the first year in the prize’s history that the judges revealed their longlist – then 24 novels.