Alexis Wright, activist and award-winning writer, is from the Waanji people from the highlands of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria. After her father, a white cattleman, died when she was five, she grew up with her mother and grandmother in Cloncurry, Queensland. She has worked extensively in government departments and Aboriginal agencies across four Australian states and territories as a professional manager, educator, researcher, and writer.
Wright was coordinator of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Constitutional Convention in 1993 and wrote 'Aboriginal Self Government' for Land Rights News, later quoted in full in Henry Reynolds's Aboriginal Sovereignty (1996). Her involvement as a writer and an activist in many Aboriginal organisations and campaigns has included work on mining, publications, fund raising, and land rights both in Australia and overseas.
Besides being published widely in magazines and journals, Wright has edited Take Power Like this Old Man Here, an anthology of writings on the history of the land rights movement in Central Australia, which she edited for the Central Land Council. She has also written Grog War (1997) a book dedicated to the achievements of the traditional Aboriginal Elders of Tennant Creek in their war against alcohol.
Her first novel, Plains of Promise (1997), was nominated for national and international literary awards. However, it was her second novel, Carpentaria that made Wright a figure in world literature, when she won the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2007. Previously, this work had been rejected by every major publisher in Australia until published by Giramondo in 2006. Subsequently, Carpentaria was nominated for and won five national literary awards and has been re-published and translated in the United States and in Europe. Wright’s third novel, The Swan Book (2013), was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin.
Wright has participated in many writers' festivals, conferences, readings and writers workshops in both Australia and overseas, and has been community writer-in-residence for the Central Land Council. Although Wright received a rudimentary education while at school, she has completed degrees in social studies, media and creative writing at universities in Adelaide and Melbourne, and has recently been made a Distinguished Research Fellow at The Writing & Society Research Centre, University of Western Sydney.
'The new novel by Alexis Wright, whose previous novel Carpentariawon the Miles Franklin Award and four other major prizes including the Australian Book Industry Awards Literary Fiction Book of the Year Award. The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute teenager 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 driven from other parts of the country, 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 best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the wild 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.' (Publisher's blurb)
'Dirtsong is a music performance from Aboriginal Australia mixing traditional and contemporary songs, existing repertoire with newly commissioned music and sung in many Indigenous Australian languages.
'A narrative about country, dirtsong evokes a sense of geographical place and country as a series of encounters, memories, occurrences, obligations and nature.
'With words from Miles Franklin Award-winning author Alexis Wright (Carpentaria), these songs evoke a new conceptual and emotional map of Australia's heartland while gently awakening some of Australia's sleeping languages.'
Source: Black Arm Band website, http://www.blackarmband.com.au/ Sighted: 28/09/2009
Carpentaria2006single work novel Carpentaria's portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance centres on the powerful Phantom family, whose members are the leaders of the Pricklebush people, and their battles with old Joseph Midnight's tearaway Eastend mob 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 is populated by extraordinary characters - Elias Smith the outcast saviour, the religious zealot Mozzie Fishman, leader of the holy Aboriginal pilgrimage, the murderous mayor Stan Bruiser, the ever-vigilant Captain Nicoli Finn, the activist and prodigal son Will Phantom, and above all, Angel Day the queen of the rubbish-dump, and her sea-faring husband Normal Phantom, the fish-embalming king of time - figures that stand like giants in this storm-swept world. (Backcover)