Bliss (novel)

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2000 Reprint (Australia)
Author Peter Carey
Country Australia
Language English
Publisher UQP (Australia)
Faber & Faber (UK)
Harper & Row (US)
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 336 (first edition, hardback)
ISBN 0-571-11769-4 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 8075118
Followed by Illywhacker

Bliss is the first novel by Australian writer Peter Carey. Published in 1981, the book won that year's Miles Franklin Award.[1]


Written as a dark, comic fable, the story concerns an advertising executive, Harry Joy, who briefly 'dies' of a heart attack. On being resuscitated, he realizes that the life he has previously drifted amiably through is in fact Hellliterally so to Harry. His wife is unfaithful, while his son is selling drugs, and his daughter is a communist selling herself to buy them. In one of the novel's more shocking scenes, glimpsed through a window, incest occurs.

Redemption comes in the form of Honey Barbara – a pantheist, healer and prostitute. In the words of the book's blurb "Honey is to Harry as Isis is to Osiris. Together they conquer Hell and retire to the forest where their children inherit the legend of paradise regained." But Harry must die for a second time to be truly saved.


In 1985 Bliss was adapted into a film of the same name, directed by Ray Lawrence and starring Barry Otto.[2]

Commissioned by Opera Australia, Brett Dean and Amanda Holden wrote an opera of the same name, which premiered in March 2010 at the Sydney Opera House, directed by Neil Armfield, conducted by Elgar Howarth, and featuring Peter Coleman-Wright as Harry Joy.

Awards and nominations[edit]


External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
The Impersonators
Miles Franklin Award recipient
Succeeded by
Just Relations