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Wright, Alexis

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1950-    ) Australian author, a member of the indigenous Waanyi nation whose homeland stretches along the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia; she has been associated for many years with various campaigns advocating the rights of Aboriginals. Her first two novels, Plains of Promise (1997) and Carpentaria (2006), both acutely but compassionately polemical, address her people and the life that has been imposed upon them. Though technically nonfantastic, this early work deeply inhabits cultural configurations whose boundaries do not conform to Westernized patterns.

Wright is of sf interest for her third novel, The Swan Book (2013), set in a distant Near Future enclave reserved for indigenous Australians after Climate Change has devastated the continent, though the "cut snake virus" – defined in the novel as "nostalgia for foreign things" – still ruinously westernizes the minds of natives. The protagonist, a mute girl first found embedded in a mythopoeic gum tree, dances complexly into adult life, after experiencing what Aboriginal children often experience under the remote overlordship of a conservative white hegemony housed in Canberra; her betrothal to a man who will become the next president of Australia gives Wright room for Satire, as well as a sense that some sort of justice – even in the wartorn Anthropocene world she is about to inherit – may be conceivable. [JC]

Alexis Wright

born Cloncurry, Queensland, Australia: 25 November 1950

works (selected)

  • Plains of Promise (St Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press, 1997) [hb/]
  • Carpentaria (Sydney, New South Wales: Giramondo Publishing Company, 2006) [pb/]
  • The Swan Book (Sydney, New South Wales: Giramondo Publishing Company, 2013) [pb/Darren Gilbert]


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