TCQ&A: Peter Carey

The rules: Answer as many of the 48 questions as you like (but a minimum of 15, and you must answer #1–4). Please limit most answers to the general geographic area.

1. How long have you lived in the area? Where did you move from? Where are you originally from? I arrived from Australia 28 years ago and lived in Bedford Street, just above Houston. In 2003, we moved to Tribeca, almost next door to the extraordinary Chambers Street Wines.

2. Married? Partnered? If so, what’s his/her name and occupation? I’m married to Frances Coady, a publisher who has moved to the dark side to become an agent at Aragi.

3. Kids? Pets? My kids despise Tribeca. They live in Bushwick and Ridgewood.

4. Where do you live? I only reveal that sort of information to telemarketers.

5. What do you do for a living? Write literary novels. [And how! Two of his 14 novels have won the Booker Prize: Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang, both of which I’d highly recommend, along with Jack Maggs, Parrot and Olivier in America, and his latest, A Long Way from Home. As Beryl Bainbridge wrote in the New York Times, Carey has “that magnificent vitality, that ebullient delight in character, detail and language that turns a novel into an important book.”

6. The best deal around: lunch at Takahachi.

7. Most-frequented restaurants: Odeon, Takahachi, Racines.

8. For special occasions, I go to… bed.

9. Best sandwich: Harry & Ida’s Luncheonette.

10. Sweet-tooth satisfaction: Château d’Yquem when paid for by others.

13. I can’t resist popping into: Philip Williams Posters, although the perfect poster I imagine does not exist.

14. The last non-essential item I bought: a large cardboard box containing an exercise bike.

15. When I walk into my apartment, the first thing I see that I bought around here is: four perfect frames by Steven Amedee.

17. How I stay fit: intense sleep.

18. Where I get beautiful: in my dreams.

19. What’s the area’s best-kept secret? My existence.

20. A recent enthusiasm: calling the Parks Department about fading water pressure in the City Hall Park fountain.

21. A worthy splurge: Issey Miyake at sale time.

22. A recent case of sticker shock: Issey Miyake before sale time.

23. When my kids are older, they’ll always remember… our 5 a.m. get-fit sessions and my foreign sense of humour.

24. Rainy-day activity: shouting at splashing motorists.

25. Advice for other parents: A day will come when you can read the Times at breakfast.

26. Kids’ classes you’d recommend: “How to act like a French kid.”

27. I’ve never been to Staten Island and I don’t know why.

28. I’m sorry, Tiny’s, but I won’t be coming back.

29. How does Bazzini’s stay in business? Oops. It seems to have been replaced by Sarabeth’s. Time to be nostalgic.

30. I tend to take out-of-towners to: witness their weddings at city hall.

31. I wish I lived… anywhere with no construction.

32. My very favorite spot: Weinstein & Holtzman hardware on Park Row. It did not deserve to die.

33. Pet peeve: Construction on Beekman and Park Row which wakes us at 3 a.m. with illegal activity.

34. If money were no object, I’d call Hustvedt Cutler Architects and start a fabulous new project.

35. A doctor I’d recommend: Dr. Jekyll.

36. My most memorable celebrity sighting: Not my forte. I sat at the next table to Madonna and didn’t recognise her.

37. A local celebrity I’d like to run into: James Rosenquist, alive again, on Chambers Street once more.

38. The most romantic spot around: Bouley R.I.P.

39. Tribeca could use more sweet-tempered old men like me and fewer bicycles on the sidewalk.

40. If I could change one thing about the neighborhood: I would teach the tourists to walk more quickly.

41. A business I’d like to have here: Pedestrian Training Camp.

42. A business I miss: You mean I wish they were in Tribeca? McNally Jackson bookstore or Three Lives, both fabulous independent book stores. (Will some nice landlord cut one of them a deal?) [McNally Jackson is opening at the Seaport District. —Ed.]

45. Someone who lives here whom I really think you should meet: Benedict Cumberbatch, if he lives here, which he denies.

46. Proof that change is good: “Change is good” is normally translated as “you’re fired.”

48. Best reason to go AboCa: Bar Pitti.

49. If I couldn’t live here, I’d live in… Penang.

50. I wish you had asked me about: I wish you provided proof that you read—i.e., asked me very specific questions about—my latest book. Also, perhaps, mentioned all prizes and previous 13 titles.

Recent TCQ&As:
Patrick McGrath
Logan Levkoff
Edward Burns
Ben LeBlanc
Jacob Weisberg



  1. Get off my lawn! (this was great btw).

  2. Always enjoy the Q & A’s but this one was not just informative but fun!

  3. In response to the Peter Carey interview, I resolve to try really hard to not ride my bike on the sidewalk. Might also note that in some of the years, Carey won his Bookers, it was a commonwealth-only countries award. But still that’s no reason to terrorize pedestrians and I’ll amend my biking etiquette.

    • Are you age 12 or younger?

      New York City Department of Transportation
      TRAFFIC RULES (Title 34 Chapter 4 Rules of the City of New York)

      4-07(c)(3) “Bicycles and limited use vehicles. (i) No person shall ride or operate a bicycle upon any sidewalk area unless permitted by sign. This prohibition shall not apply to the operation of bicycles with wheels of less than 26 inches in diameter upon the sidewalk by children of 12 years or less in age. […]”

  4. What kind of an asinine comment is this? It sounds like Brent is some local writer who wants to show off his dubious knowledge of Booker Prize history, perhaps in some pathetic attempt to bring himself to Carey’s attention. What’s that got to do w/ riding his bike, anyway.