“Peter Carey is a perfect example of that kind of inane literacy snobbery,” says Bryce Courtenay, with an economy and efficacy of words that has made him Australia’s most wildly successful writer.

Courtenay was stung by Carey's recent closing night address to the Sydney Writers' Festival, during which he rebuked a nation "getting dumber every day"; "forgetting how to read" the classics in favour of cookbooks and Dan Brown and "cultural junk ... completely destructive of democracy".