The Tax Inspector by Peter Carey

This grim but colourful novel raises all kinds of questions about economic liberalism. The brief text is written with aplomb. It is more similar to Bliss than Oscar and Lucinda. Nonetheless, the rich imagination of the author gives the book a stand-alone quality.

Tax is something which impacts on all citizens. The narrative does sketch how perceptions of taxation altered between the 1970s and the 1980s in Australia. Evasion of taxes became more prevalent as scepticism about public spending grew. The positive benefits of progressive taxation were attacked by the affluent as they shed their social responsibility. Further, the governing class decided to favour the wealthy with their think tank policies.

However, the novel is not simply about philosophy or politics. It is a vivid engagement with the culture of a changing place. The creative artist does not stop entertaining the reader. It even contains a digression about music:

“‘What I like about Country music is that it never patronizes anyone, not even single mothers.'”

 

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