Leon Carmen

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The first edition cover of My Own Sweet Time (1994) – demonstrating the use of the pseudonym "Wanda Koolmatrie"

Leon Carmen (born 1949)[1] is an Australian author who is best known for the hoax that resulted from his authorship of the novel My Own Sweet Time—which he wrote under the pseudonym "Wanda Koolmatrie".

Background[edit]

Carmen grew up in Torrens Park in Adelaide and attended Unley High School.[2] His father died when he was fourteen.[1]

Carmen married at age 20, however the marriage ended in divorce.[2]

He played keyboard in various bands including Red Angel Panic,[2] and has had a number of jobs, including: public servant, taxi-driver, and fruit-picker.[1]

In around 1995, Carmen moved to Sydney.[2]

My Own Sweet Time[edit]

In 1994 the Aboriginal publishing house Magabala Books published My Own Sweet Time,[3] supposedly a biographical account by the author Wanda Koolmatrie—an aboriginal woman born to the Pitjantjatjara people in 1949.[4] The book details how Koolmatrie was taken from her mother in 1950 to be raised by white foster parents,[4] and thus became one of the stolen generation. In 1996 the author received the Dobbie Literary Award for the work.[5]

When Koolmatrie offered Magabala a sequel to the book in 1997, the publisher discovered the hoax and the affair was made public.[6] The fact that "Koolmatrie" turned out to be a white Australian taxi driver named Leon Carmen turned into a "national scandal".[6][7] In a later interview, Carmen said that he was trying to break into the literary market and believed he could not have got his book published without the subterfuge.[2]

Carmen states that his friend and agent, John Bayley, was aware of the plan to write the work under a pseudonym, and helped to select the novel's title.[2] In 1997, a "Brief of Evidence" regarding "the 'Wanda' Case" was compiled by the NSW Police against John Bailey.[5] In 2004 Bayley published a book about the affair, titled: Daylight corroboree : a first-hand account of the "Wanda Koolmatrie" hoax.[8]

The first edition of the work included supportive quotes (on the rear cover) from the Australian author Dorothy Hewett and from the Australian academic and author Philip Morrissey.[9]

The work was included in an anthology of Australian autobiography, and was used as a text for the NSW Higher School Certificate examination.[5]

References[edit]

Citations

  1. ^ a b c "Carmen, Leon". The Australian Literature Resource. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Carmen, Leon (15 March 1997). "Leon and a ruse called Wanda". The Daily Telegraph (News Corporation). pp. 30–31. 
  3. ^ Koolmatrie 1994, publishing notes.
  4. ^ a b Koolmatrie 1994, p. 216.
  5. ^ a b c "John Vincent Bayley - papers, 1994?-1998". Manuscripts, oral history & pictures. State Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Raymond, Adam K. (1 April 2011). "Successful people who never existed". CNN.com. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Cooper, Nathanael (5 May 2012). "One Hoax that's the genuine article". The Courier-Mail (News Limited). Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Bayley 2004.
  9. ^ Koolmatrie 1994, rear cover.

Sources

  • Koolmatrie, Wanda (1994). My Own Sweet Time (1st ed.). Broome, Western Australia: Magabala Books Aboriginal Corporation. ISBN 1-875641-22-X. 
  • Bayley, John (2004). Daylight corroboree : a first-hand account of the "Wanda Koolmatrie" hoax. Cambelltown, South Australia: Eidolon Books. ISBN 0958546649. 

External links[edit]