Alexis Wright

Praiseworthy

Winner of the 2023 Queensland Award for Literary Fiction

In a small Aboriginal town dominated by a haze cloud, which heralds both ecological disaster and a gathering of the ancestors, Cause Man Steel is chasing a mad vision: a national donkey transport scheme that will guarantee his people’s independence forever. He finds, however, as he bundles feral donkeys into his Ford Falcon and dumps them en masse in the cemetery, that not all of Praiseworthy agrees. Outrage ferments at his desecration of traditional land, while Cause’s wife Dance seeks refuge with butterflies and dreams of moving their family to China. Bad feelings reach fever pitch when citizens catch wind of the suicide of Aboriginal Sovereignty, Cause’s eldest son. All are distraught – all, that is, except eight-year-old Tommyhawk Steel, who, with his brother gone, gleefully pursues his dream of becoming white and powerful. Told with the richness of language and scale of imagery for which Alexis Wright has become renowned, Praiseworthy is a marvel of explosive sentences, a shock to allegory, an outraged cry against oppression, and a biting satire for the end of days.

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Paperback: £18.99
EBook: £12.99

More Info

  • Alexis Wright wrote about the 2019-2020 black summer bushfires for The Guardian – you can read the full article here.
  • You can read The Monthly‘s profile of Alexis Wright here.
  • Alexis Wright spoke to ABC Australia about Praiseworthy in April 2023 – the recording is available to listen to here.
  • The judges of the 2023 Queensland Award for Literary Fiction had this to say about Praiseworthy: ‘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.’
Print status: Available
Original language: English
Publication date: 2 November 2023
ISBN: 9781913505929
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505936
Availability: UK & C (excl Canada and ANZ) and Europe
Number of pages: 736

Reviews


The Skinny

'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'


The Spectator

‘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
New Statesman

‘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.’


Buzz Mag

'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.’

Robert Macfarlane

‘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.’  

Declan Fry
The Guardian 

‘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.’

Tony Hughes-d’Aeth
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 Age

‘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.’

Jane Gleeson-White
The Conversation

‘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