A rich and epic novel from an authentic aboriginal voice. Winner of the 2007 Miles Franklin Literary Award.
Alexis Wright is one of Australia's finest writers and a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her books include Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in the outback town of Tennant Creek, and the novel Plains of Promise, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize, the Age Book of the Year and the NSW Premier's Award.
This 2007 Miles Franklin award-winning novel is the latest masterpiece from Wright, an indigenous Australian author and land rights activist. In the town of Desperance, in northern Queensland, Australia, the question of land ownership is complicated, and every family stakes a claim. There's Normal Phantom's family, Mozzie Fishman's gang and the white settlers who control the region, but can't quite figure out how to get the native Pricklebush people to assimilate to the white man's ways. The drama unfolds with all the poetry and eclecticism of a Bob Dylan song: a drunken white mayor dismisses a murder case, a lying deaf policeman named Truthful has his way with Aboriginal women, and a brave young activist sabotages the town's mining industry. When the mythical Elias Smith, who appears in Desperance one day after "walking out of the sea," is found murdered, a series of tragedies follows, awakening latent feuds and underlining the injustice of colonialism. Rarely does an author have such control of her words and her story: Wright's prose soars between the mythical and the colloquial. (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
While most of its characters and events are based in the ragtag fictional northern Queensland town of Desperance, this book is a sprawling, surreal anti-Odyssey in which time and space contract and expand and experience takes place in the Dreamtime, on the sea, and on and under the continent of Australia. Normal Phantom, patriarch of an Aboriginal family residing in Westend Pricklebush, undertakes a harrowing spiritual journey. Seeking to do right by himself, his friends, and his people, Phantom faces one adversity after another. Though compromised and haunted by his relationships with others-among them, his devastatingly erotic ex-wife, the corrupted patriarch of a rival Eastend clan, a traveling Aboriginal holy man, and Will Phantom, the prodigal son who defies his father by acting against the personal and institutional tyranny of the local white officials and the corporate mining interests they serve-Phantom maintains a love for his once-estranged grandson that finally redeems and releases him. Published in Australia in 2006, Wright's award-winning second novel (after Plains of Promise) offers in Phantom one of the most compelling literary protagonists since Odysseus and will surely stand as a masterpiece of modern English-language literature.-J.G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
An astonishing tour de force ... undeniably important * Guardian
[A] thundering, swelling epic ... Wright has a way of entering the hearts, minds and bloodstreams of her characters. * The Times *
A huge, audacious, monstrous work of genius...moving, uplifting and funny...you'll emerge from this astonishing novel with a bit of your brain left in the Dreamtime. * The Independent. *
Alexis Wright's Carpentaria is already considered an Australian masterwork, one of those books which re-make a world, in this case the world of tropic Australia, Aboriginal and European, anew. It will attract and excite readers the world over. * Thomas Keneally *
Wright's gift to Australian literature is Desperance ... it's her uncanny ear for the particularities of local language and eye for striking symbolism that could carry Carpentaria into the classics sections of bookshelves in years to come. * Michael Fitzgerald, Time Magazine *
Wright's is the authentic aboriginal voice. With humour and occasional farce, but always with an underlying truthfulness, she delivers a brutal portrait of the physical and psychological violence between the white newcomers and the original inhabitants. * The Economist *
So comprehensive is Wright's vision that reading it is like looking at her world from the inside. It's an unashamedly big book - big in scope, ambition and physical size - and well-suited to the Gulf country it sings. It is also an important book. * Liam Davison, Sydney Morning Herald *
This is the kind of writing in which a reader can put their entire trust in the narrator, put the weight of their doubt in the narrator's hands. It is like being spoken to by someone with a voice you can trust, someone standing close by. It is as if you could hear their intake of breath, the compassion in their voice, their amusement at the foolishness of mortals. * Alison Ravescroft, The Age *
Carpentaria is a swelling, heaving, tsunami of a novel: stinging, sinuous, salted with outrageous humour, sweetened by spiralling lyricism and swaggering with the confident promise of a tale dominated by risk, roguery and revelation. * Michele Grossman, The Australian *
One of the most enchanting books of this year * The Financial Times *
A truly breathtaking Australian epic ... a sure-fire beachbuster * The Lady *