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Alexis Wright wins the Stella Prize for the second time with Praiseworthy

Alexis Wright presents her acceptance speech for the 2024 Stella Prize at the State Library of Victoria.

Alexis Wright has won the Stella Prize for her epic work Praiseworthy, described by the judges as ‘a canon-crushing Australian novel for the ages’.

At the announcement ceremony on Thursday evening, Beejay Silcox, chair of Stella judges, said: ‘Praiseworthy is not only a great Australian novel – perhaps the great Australian novel – it is also a great Waanyi novel. And it is written in the wild hope that, one day, all Australian readers might understand just what that means.’

In winning the Stella for Praiseworthy, Alexis Wright has become the first author to win the award twice, having previously received it in 2018 for Tracker, her collective memoir of Aboriginal leader Tracker Tilmouth.

Praiseworthy has also won the Queensland Literary Award for Fiction, and is currently shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction. It is published internationally in the United Kingdom and North America. Read interviews with Wright in ABC Arts, the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, and many more media outlets.

Read the judges’ comments on Praiseworthy below.

Fierce and gloriously funny, Praiseworthy is a genre-defiant epic of climate catastrophe proportions. Part manifesto, part indictment, Alexis Wright’s real-life frustration at the indignities of the Anthropocene stalk the pages of this, her fourth novel.

That frustration is embodied by a methane-like haze over the once-tidy town of Praiseworthy. The haze catalyses the quest of protagonist Cause Man Steel. His search for a platinum donkey, muse for a donkey-transport business, is part of a farcical get-rich-quick scheme to capitalise on the new era of heat. Cause seeks deliverance for himself and his people to the blue-sky country of economic freedom.

Praiseworthy walks the same Country as companion novel, Carpentaria, published in 2006, and here, Wright demonstrates further mastery of form. Reflecting the landscape of the Queensland Gulf Country where the tale unfolds, Wright’s voice is operatic in intensity. Wright’s use of language and imagery is poetic and expansive, creating an immersive blak multiverse. Readers will be buoyed by Praiseworthy’s aesthetic and technical quality; and winded by the tempestuous pace of Wright’s political satire.

Praiseworthy belies its elegy-like form to stand firm in the author’s Waanyi worldview and remind us that this is not the end times for that or any Country. Instead it asks, which way my people? Which way humanity?

— Judges’ report, 2024 Stella Prize
Watch Alexis Wright’s 2024 Stella Prize acceptance speech.
The collector’s set of Alexis Wright fiction. Order here.

Interviews with Alexis Wright following her Stella Prize win:

Praiseworthy (paperback edition)
Praiseworthy (hardcover edition)
Tracker (2018 Stella Prize winner)