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The Swan Book

352 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published May 2023
ISBN 9781922725431

The Swan Book

Alexis Wright

Winner, ALS Gold Medal
Winner, Kate Challis RAKA Award

A new edition of Alexis Wright’s acclaimed novel, published to accompany her new book Praiseworthy.

See special offers on Wright’s fiction books here.

The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginal peoples still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute young woman called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city. The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning bestseller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale, has Oblivia Ethylene in the company of amazing characters like Aunty Bella Donna of the Champions, the Harbour Master, Big Red and the Mechanic, a talking monkey called Rigoletto, three genies with doctorates, and throughout, the guiding presence of swans.

A sprawling, magnificent achievement, a remarkable imaginative vision of Australia as it was and is, and will be…The novel is full of mythologies and soaring imagery…at the same time, [The Swan Book] launches a devastating critique of Australia’s treatment of Indigenous people: condemning the Federal government’s Intervention, and showing us the many ways in which a militarised colonialism has shaped, and continues to shape, Indigenous lives in Australia’s north and across the nation.
Kate Challis RAKA Award, judges’ comments

If Wright’s last novel Carpentaria – the winner of the 2007 Miles Franklin Literary Award – was operatic in its scope and language, then The Swan Book is even more so. Rich and deep in its imagery, fearless in its linguistic acrobatics and sweeping in its imaginative power, The Swan Book is at once a futuristic dystopia, a gorgeous artefact, and an urgent call to action.
The Stella Prize, judges’ comments

In its intelligence and originality, in the imaginativeness of its storytelling and in its distinctive voice, The Swan Book might very well be one of the most important Australian novels yet.
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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Awards

Winner, ASAL Awards – Australian Literature Society Gold Medal 2014

Winner, Kate Challis RAKA Award 2016

Shortlisted, Miles Franklin Literary Award 2014

Shortlisted, Stella Prize 2014

Shortlisted, New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards – Christina Stead Prize for Fiction 2014

Shortlisted, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards – Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing 2014

Interview

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