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528 pages
Paperback, 19.7 x 13 cm
Published May 2023
ISBN 9781922725400


Alexis Wright

Winner, Miles Franklin Literary Award
Winner, ALS Gold Medal
Winner, Queensland Premier’s Literary Award
Winner, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award

A new edition of Alexis Wright’s classic, released to accompany her latest novel, Praiseworthy.

See special offers on Wright’s fiction books here.

Carpentaria is an epic of the Gulf country of north-western Queensland. Its portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance centres on the powerful Phantom family, leader of the Westend Pricklebush people, and its battles with old Joseph Midnight’s renegade Eastend mob 2007 on the one hand, and the white officials of Uptown and the neighbouring Gurfurrit mine on the other. Wright’s storytelling is operatic and surreal: a blend of myth and scripture, politics and farce. The novel teems with extraordinary characters – the outcast saviour Elias Smith, the religious zealot Mozzie Fishman, the murderous mayor Bruiser, the moth-ridden Captain Nicoli Finn, the activist Will Phantom, and above all, the rulers of the family, the queen of the rubbish-dump and the fish-embalming king of time, Angel Day and Normal Phantom – figures of such an intense imagining, they stand like giants in this storm-swept world.

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.
The Australian

Carpentaria is that rare kind of novel which opens up an entire world to the reader.
Australian Book Review

Imagine Gabriel García Márquez’s fictional town Macondo set on dustier ground and with considerably more magic – and aboriginal mythology – worked into the magical realism, and you have some approximation of Wright’s fluent tale.
Kirkus Reviews

An epic, exhilarating, unsettling novel.
Wall Street Journal

Wright breaks all the rules of grammar and syntax to sweep us along on a great torrent of language that thrills and amazes with its inventiveness and humour and with the sheer power of its storytelling…Like the Gulf Country itself, this is big enough to lose yourself in. Once in, you may never want to be found.
Sydney Morning Herald

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 Praiseworthy, 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 overseas, including in China, the US, the UK, Italy, France and Poland. Wright has won a number of literary awards, including the Miles Franklin Literary Award for Carpentaria, and a Queensland Literary Award for Praiseworthy, which was also shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, one of the world’s richest literary prizes. She is the first author to win the Stella Prize twice – for Tracker in 2018, and for Praiseworthy in 2024.

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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

Michelle Grossman, The Australian


Winner: Miles Franklin Literary Award 2007

Winner: ALS Gold Medal 2007

Winner: Fiction Book Prize, Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards 2007

Winner: Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2007


The Guardian: 2008 profile

The Guardian:‘The Australian book you’ve finally got time for: Carpentaria by Alexis Wright’

The Saturday Paper: ‘The Influence’: Jazz Money on Carpentaria

Articles by Alexis Wright

The Guardian: ‘The book big about small town Australia that travelled the world’

Emergence Magazine: ‘A Universal Lesson of the Seven Sisters Story’

Educational resources

Carpentaria A Reading Australia Information Trail