Carpentaria: A Novel

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Apr 7, 2009 - Fiction - 517 pages
Hailed as a "literary sensation" by The New York Times Book Review, Carpentaria is the luminous award-winning novel by Australian Aboriginal writer and activist Alexis Wright.

Alexis Wright employs mysticism, stark reality, and pointed imagination to re-create the land and the Aboriginal people of Carpentaria.

In the sparsely populated northern Queensland town of Desperance, loyalties run deep and battle lines have been drawn between the powerful Phantom family, leaders of the Westend Pricklebush people, and Joseph Midnight's renegade Eastend mob, and their disputes with the white officials of neighboring towns. Steeped in myth and magical realism, Wright's hypnotic storytelling exposes the heartbreaking realities of Aboriginal life.

By turns operatic and everyday, surreal and sensational, the novel teems with extraordinary, larger-than-life characters. From the outcast savior Elias Smith, religious zealot Mossie Fishman, and murderous mayor Bruiser to activist Will Phantom and Normal Phantom, ruler of the family, these unforgettable characters transcend their circumstances and challenge assumptions about the downtrodden "other." Trapped between politics and principle, past and present, the indigenous tribes fight to protect their natural resources, sacred sites, and above all, their people.

Already an international bestseller, Carpentaria has garnered praise from around the world.

Selected pages


From time immemorial
Angel Day
Elias Smith comes and goes
Number One house
Mozzie Fishman
Knowing fish
Something about the Phantom family
Norms responsibility
Bala the child of hope
The giant in the cloak
The mine
About sending letters
The wash
Coming back

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About the author (2009)

Alexis Wright is the author of Carpentaria which won a Northern Territory Literary Award in the Essay category 2015. She also won a 2015 Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship worth $160,000 over two years for this same title. She made the finalist for the Melbourne Prize for Literature 2015. Her title The Swan Book made the shortlist for the 2016 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature in the fiction category. Her collective memoir, Tracker (2017), won the 2018 Stella Prize and 2018 Magarey Medal.

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