Alexis Wright, a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria, is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and fearless writers. The author of the prize-winning novels Carpentaria and The Swan Book, Wright has published three works of non-fiction: Take Power, an oral history of the Central Land Council; Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory; and Tracker, an award-winning collective memoir of Aboriginal leader, Tracker Tilmouth. Her books have been published widely outside Australia, including in China, the US, the UK, Italy, France and Poland. Wright is the only author to win both the Miles Franklin Award (in 2007 for Carpentaria) and the Stella Prize (in 2018 for Tracker). Her third novel, Praiseworthy, is published by New Directions in North America, And Other Stories in Europe and Giramondo in Australia.
Photo credit: Vincent Long
'Some books you have to simply let happen to you. Alexis Wright’s Praiseworthy is one such book...Wright has written something which is often funny, heartbreaking and politically doesn’t hold back'
‘Playful, formally innovative, multi-storied, allegorical, protean and dizzyingly exhilarating, it is long, lyrical and enraged – James Joyce crossed with Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Bruce Chatwin and Arundhati Roy … the warm, salty, imaginatively beautiful narrative voice draws you in.’
Preti Taneja’s Books of the Year
‘A monumental novel that documents ecological catastrophe and Aboriginal lives in blistering prose.’
Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review
‘At once lush and relentless, Wright’s looping tale combines magical realism, absurdism, and maximalism in a rich depiction of contemporary Aboriginal life. This is unforgettable.’
'A book you don’t so much read but experience and inhabit ... Praiseworthy says plenty worth saying, perhaps in the only way it could be said. Praiseworthy indeed.'
Judges of the 2023 Queensland Award for Literary Fiction
‘The great Moana Jackson declared the doctrine of discovery a legal fiction. In Praiseworthy, farce, satire, tragedy, the colloquial, myth, pun, repetition, elegy, and the epic expose the absurdity of the doctrine and the everyday lies, habits and horrors keeping it in place. Praiseworthy is simply astonishing.’
‘I’m awed by the range, experiment and political intelligence of Alexis Wright’s work. She is vital on the subject of land and people. Praiseworthy is a magnificent novel by a true giant of literature.’
‘Linguistically commodious, panoramically plotted, Praiseworthy’s 700-plus-page scale would have given Henry James a heart attack: it is a baggy monster, and more monstrous than most. Its vision is dark, humour tar-black, narration irrepressible, language roiling and rococo. All life, as in Balzac, is here … Wright gives us the living and the dead, material and non-material, Country and people; all the masters dreamed of, and all they neglected to; the entire human (and non-human) comedy … Long after the lesser concerns of contemporary fiction have ceased to matter, the work of Alexis Wright will remain.’
Australian Book Review
‘Monumental. Praiseworthy blew me away. If you think you know what assimilation is, you should read Praiseworthy and think again.’
Jack Cameron Stanton
‘The rich interrelations of ancestral spirits, larger-than-life characters, and Country all derive from the Aboriginal traditions of storytelling. But there are also signs of literary influence from every compass point on the map, including, most notably, the surrealism and magic realism of writers such as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.’
‘Praiseworthy is Alexis Wright’s most formidable act of imaginative synthesis yet . . . A hero’s journey for an age of global warming, a devastating story of young love caught between two laws, and an extended elegy and ode to Aboriginal law and sovereignty.’
Booksellers love Praiseworthy
‘An epic fable, at once a song and a battle-cry for Indigenous lives … Praiseworthy is the novel of now, of the future. It effortlessly draws together our history, our crimes and what future we have to speak of under one frightening, hilarious and humbling umbrella.’ James Gilbert, Heywood Hill Bookshop
‘Alexis Wright has given her country its own Ulysses: an epic feast of language, confronting the bewilderments of 21st-century Australia and staring the future right in the eye.’ Roland Bates, Kirkdale Bookshop