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736 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published April 2023
ISBN 9781922725325


Alexis Wright

Winner of the Queensland Literary Award for Fiction

This product is the paperback edition of Praiseworthy. There is a hardcover edition available here.

Praiseworthy can be ordered as part of a set, with a special offer on the three Alexis Wright fiction books released in 2023.

The new novel from the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author Alexis Wright.

Praiseworthy is an epic set in the north of Australia, told with the richness of language and scale of imagery for which Alexis Wright has become renowned. In a small town dominated by a haze cloud, which heralds both an ecological catastrophe and a gathering of the ancestors, a crazed visionary seeks out donkeys as the solution to the global climate crisis and the economic dependency of the Aboriginal people. His wife seeks solace from his madness in following the dance of butterflies and scouring the internet to find out how she can seek repatriation for her Aboriginal/Chinese family to China. One of their sons, called Aboriginal Sovereignty, is determined to commit suicide. The other, Tommyhawk, wishes his brother dead so that he can pursue his dream of becoming white and powerful. This is a novel which pushes allegory and language to its limits, a cry of outrage against oppression and disadvantage, and a fable for the end of days.

WINNER: University of Queensland Fiction Book Award, Queensland Literary Awards 2023
SHORTLISTED: Queensland Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance, Queensland Literary Awards 2023
LONGLISTED: The Dublin Literary Award 2024

The most ambitious and accomplished Australian novel of this century.
Samuel Rutter, New York Times Review of Books

As a craftsperson, few can match Wright. Her use of language is dazzling in the truest sense of the world – bewildering and surprising with brilliance.
Judges’ comments, Dublin Literary Award 2024

The writing is the best in the country, some of the best in the world; we call to mind Alexis Wright when they talk about our country’s great literary voice.
Tara June Winch

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.
Robert Macfarlane, The New York Times Book Review

Monumental…Praiseworthy blew me away… If you think you know what assimilation is, you should read Praiseworthy and think again.
Tony Hughes-d’Aeth, Australian Book Review

The Australian Ulysses. A searing satirical yet lyrical allegory about Aboriginal Sovereignty…a transformative almost hallucinatory reading experience.
Joy Lawn, The Australian (Best Books of 2023)

An abundant odyssey that contains a formidable vision of Australia’s future. This is a long journey through the imagination, a novel both urgent and deeply contemplated… 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.
Jack Cameron Stanton, The Age 

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.
Jane Gleeson-White, The Conversation

There are few books in Australian literature more epic than Praiseworthy and few books as dense with poetry.
Claire G. Coleman, The Saturday Paper

Wright has already proved herself one of Australia’s deepest and most urgent thinkers. In her new novel Praiseworthy, she synthesises the themes and forms of her past work – including Carpentaria, The Swan Book and Tracker – and arrives at a furious and dense epic satirising white Australia’s ongoing attacks on the colonised.Steph Harmon, Guardian Australia

A literary feat deeply concerned with issues of sovereignty, colonisation and climate change…timely and urgent, complex and absorbing, [Praiseworthy is] a book that demands, and captures, its readers’ full attention.
Gemma Nisbet, West Australian

Like opera, Wright’s writing operates in many modes, not just satirical, but comedic, lyrical, absurd, a lament, a screed, a manifesto, and often within paragraphs or even sentences that wind on like the lines of migrating butterflies that flit through the novel… It is one of the most exhilarating reading experiences I can imagine.
James Whitmore, The Library is Open

Praiseworthy is classic Wright: a book made of beautiful, mutable and playful language… These seven hundred-odd pages are chock full of stunning, exhilarating sentences that lead you around by the nose, taking you to some very unexpected places. Wright stretches sentences to their limits; when you think you’re over one sentence, sick of it even, you land on the most satisfying note.
Mykaela Saunders, Sydney Review of Books

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.
Queensland Literary Awards, judges’ comments

[A] freewheeling and heartbreaking masterpiece… 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.
Publishers Weekly

An impassioned environmental Ulysses of the Northern Territory… 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.
Ruth Padel, The Spectator

Incandescent, polyphonic, free-wheeling… This immersive epic marks a decisive stand. It suggests what would be lost were assimilation to succeed: vital knowledge for the future of humankind gleaned from the “biggest library in the world – country”. Yet its anguished elegy is offset by a confidence in survival, born of a long view of tens of thousands of years.
Maya Jaggi, Guardian UK

[Of] incendiary beauty…a monumental novel that documents ecological catastrophe and Aboriginal lives in blistering prose.
Preti Taneja, New Statesman

The experience of reading Praiseworthy brings to mind that of picking up Ulysses for the first time. Alexis Wright challenges and stretches us, forcing us to reconsider the act of reading itself. It is a mind-altering experience: Praiseworthy retaught me how to read.
Astrid Edwards, Times Literary Supplement

The finest distillation yet of Wright’s themes – a bold assertion of Aboriginal sovereignty that successfully encompasses all areas of life: culture, economy, and jurisprudence.
Lynda Ng, Meanjin

About the Author

Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. 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, the Stella Prize-winning collective memoir of Aboriginal leader, Tracker Tilmouth.

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WINNER: University of Queensland Fiction Book Award, Queensland Literary Awards 2023

SHORTLISTED: Queensland Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance, Queensland Literary Awards 2023

LONGLISTED: The Dublin Literary Award 2024

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