The Tax Inspector Critical Essays

Peter Carey

The Tax Inspector

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Australian author, Peter Carey, won Great Britain’s coveted Booker Prize for 1988 with his novel OSCAR AND LUCINDA (1988). THE TAX INSPECTOR is merely Carey’s fourth novel and yet he has already established himself as one of the finest novelists writing in English. He is noted for his keen sense of observation and for his ability to make implausible situations seem all too plausible. In all of his novels, Carey has also created flesh and blood characters. No matter how quirky or grotesque any of the characters have been drawn, he does not deny them human qualities that are worthy of a reader’s empathy. In THE TAX INSPECTOR, Carey has created some of his most unusual characters. The Catchprice family runs a failing car dealership in the Sydney suburb of Franklin. They are very strange and verge on the cartoonish, but Carey uses all of his skill to make the members of the Catchprice family for the most part sympathetic.

The matriarch of the family is Frieda. She is in her eighties and has a habit of carrying explosives in her purse for protection. Her daughter Cathy controls the business end of Catchprice Motors. She is a large woman who has aspirations of becoming a country-and-western star. The most shameful secret of the family is that there has been sexual abuse of a number of family members when they were young. The most grotesque character is Benny. He is Frieda’s grandson, and he was abused by her son Mort, who had been molested as a...

(The entire section is 505 words.)