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y separately published work icon Plains of Promise single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 1997... 1997 Plains of Promise
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'In this brilliant debut novel, Alexis Wright evokes city and outback, deepening our understanding of human ambition and failure, and making the timeless heart and soul of this country pulsate on the page. Black and white cultures collide in a thousand ways as Aboriginal spirituality clashes with the complex brutality of colonisation at St Dominic's mission. With her political awareness raised by work with the city-based Aboriginal Coalition, Mary visits the old mission in the northern Gulf country, place of her mother's and grandmother's suffering. Mary's return reignites community anxieties, and the Council of Elders again turn to their spirit world.' (From the publisher's website.)




  • Other formats: Also sound recording.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Alternative title: Les Plaines de l'Espoir
Language: French
    • Arles,
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Actes Sud ,
      1999 .
      image of person or book cover 5988299435229240183.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 335p.
      • Babel series, 544.
      • Traduction de: Plains of promise.
      ISBN: 2742738509, 9782742738502, 276092274X, 9782760922747
    • Arles,
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Actes Sud ,
      2002 .
      image of person or book cover 2307336186010162024.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 335p.
      ISBN: 2742724893, 9782742724895

Works about this Work

Strange Weather : Indigenous Materialisms, New Materialism, and Colonialism Alison Ravenscroft , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry , September vol. 5 no. 3 2018; (p. 353-370)

'The essay looks at the challenges Australian Indigenous materialisms make to the Western concept of human and its relation to the inhuman, and it does this through reading the novels of Waanyi writer, critic, and activist Alexis Wright. In the Australian context, a highly productive knot is being tied between post-humanism and postcolonialism, such that the binary of “culture” and “nature” is understood in relation to another binary couple that sits snugly within “culture” and “nature,” and that is “colonizer” and “native.” The place of Indigenous-signed literary texts in critiques of Western materialisms cannot be underestimated. It is through the arts that most encounters between Indigenous and settler Australians take place. How non-Indigenous readers might approach these literary texts is a key ethical question with implications for new materialist and post-humanist projects.'  (Publication abstract)

Australian Indigenous Art and Literature Sally Butler , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Worldmaking : Literature, Language, Culture 2017; (p. 107-116)
The Specter of Landscape : The Postcolonial Gothic, Preternatural, and Aboriginal Spiritual in Alexis Wright’s Plains of Promise Kathrin Bartha , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Preternature : Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural , vol. 5 no. 2 2016; (p. 189-212)

'This article examines the use of preternatural landscapes within the Australian novel Plains of Promise(1997) by the Aboriginal author Alexis Wright, exploring her themes of memory, reconciliation, and connection to “place.” The novel is concerned with the traumas of three generations of Aboriginal women who have been forcibly separated and displaced from their traditional homeland. There is a sense in which haunted and “sacred” country coincide, and at times, uncanny nature is able to empower the dispossessed via its role of witness. Rather than a relationship to country being represented as a special spiritual capacity of Aboriginal people, however, connection to place is productively utopian. Discussing the uses and limits of such labels as the “Postcolonial Gothic” and considering the preternatural’s role, I argue that the novel provides a space for the unknown as Wright portrays the freedom to maintain difference as a kind of resistance to colonialism.' (Publication abstract)

Alexis Wright’s Fiction as World Making Linda Daley , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Contemporary Women's Writing , March vol. 10 no. 1 2016; (p. 8-23)
'This essay examines Indigenous Australian writer Alexis Wright’s novels Plains of Promise (1997) and The Swan Book (2013), alongside debates within world literature. These debates prize open the crucial distinction between spatial and temporal understandings of the Earth and the unique agency of literature to make a world. I claim that these debates provide insights compatible with those of Wright’s fiction, which is realist, modernist, and “epical” in its style of connecting contemporary and historical stories to the “ancient literature of this land,” and in performing the interconnection of language with other nonlinguistic forces in her narratives (Wright 2008). Wright’s literature makes a strong case for thinking the material, aesthetic, and political nature of the literary work as a force that opens a world.' (Publication abstract)
Writing White, Writing Black, and Events at Canoe Rivulet Catherine McKinnon , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT : Journal of Writing and Writing Courses , October vol. 16 no. 2 2012;
'How a community imagines the past contributes to the shaping of its present culture; influences that community's vision for the future. Yet much about the past can be difficult to access, as it can be lost or hidden. Therefore, when retelling first contact stories, especially when the documentary information is limited to a colonial perspective, how might a writer approach fictionalizing historical Indigenous figures? 'Will Martin' (2011), a tale written as part of my practice-led PhD, is a fictional retelling of the eighteenth century sailing trip, taken along the New South Wales coast, by explorers Matthew Flinders, George Bass, and Bass's servant, William Martin. This paper traces my attempts to discover how to approach fictionalizing the historical Indigenous figures that Flinders met. Examining how some non-Indigenous writers have appropriated Indigenous culture and investigating what some writers have said about non-Indigenous writers creating Indigenous characters, provided me with some guidelines. Interviews with Indigenous elders, and other members of the Illawarra community, helped me imagine the gaps in knowledge. In the fictional retelling, using unreliable narration to suggest there may be multiple stories around a single historical event, some of which we may never get to hear, became a useful narrative strategy.' (Author's abstract)
The Pointed Review Larissa Behrendt , 2007 single work review
— Appears in: National Indigenous Times , 29 November vol. 6 no. 143 2007; (p. 30)

— Review of Carpentaria Alexis Wright , 2006 single work novel ; Plains of Promise Alexis Wright , 1997 single work novel
Problems with Victim Support Rosemary Sorensen , 1997 single work review
— Appears in: The Sunday Age , 4 May 1997; (p. 8)

— Review of Plains of Promise Alexis Wright , 1997 single work novel
Abused and Beaten Tegan Bennett Daylight , 1997 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 10-11 May 1997; (p. rev 9)

— Review of Plains of Promise Alexis Wright , 1997 single work novel ; The Ballad of Siddy Church Lin Van Hek , 1997 single work novel
Generations Suffer the Agony and the Exodus Nicholas Jose , 1997 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 17 May 1997; (p. 9s)

— Review of Plains of Promise Alexis Wright , 1997 single work novel
Books in Brief Jim Buckell , 1997 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian's Review of Books , May vol. 2 no. 4 1997; (p. 28)

— Review of Plains of Promise Alexis Wright , 1997 single work novel
Re-Surfacing through Palimpsests : A (False) Quest for Reposession in the Works of Mudrooroo and Alexis Wright Francoise Kral , 2002 single work criticism
— Appears in: Commonwealth , vol. 25 no. 1 2002; (p. 7-14)
Author's abstract: Mudrooroo and Alexis Wright seem to have little in common. Mudrooroo belongs to the first generation of Australian Aboriginal writers and wrote many novels and critical studies as well as poetry. As for Alexis Wright, she wrote her first novel in 1997. Yet the landscapes they describe are charaterized by the same tension between a homogeneous surface and sub-layers that criss-cross, overlap and surface, thus posing a threat to the apparent unity of colonial space. This essay addresses the issue of palimpsestic landscapes and characters as clues to pinpoint the specificities of Aboriginal aesthetics. It also focuses on the use of intertextual references as a means to subvert colonial discourse.
Homelands vs 'The Tropics' : Crossing the Line Lyn Jacobs , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 2 no. 2003; (p. 167-178)
'In Australian fictions, "the tropics" feature as paradisiacal retreats, mosquito-infested war zones, touristic destinations or sites-of-last-resort on terminal pathways north. But they are also homelands and cross-cultural spaces where the nexus between Indigenous and non-indigenous people, as well as the environment, climate and geography, is distinctive ... This paper considers "the tropics" as contested sites in Australia and New Guinea, and indicates tensions between writing about or from within homelands' (p.167).
An Interview with Alexis Wright Jean-François Vernay (interviewer), 2004 single work interview
— Appears in: Antipodes , December vol. 18 no. 2 2004; (p. 119-122)
Discomforting Readings : Uncanny Perceptions of Self in Alexis Wright's 'Plains of Promise' and David Malouf's 'Remembering Babylon' Cornelis Martin Renes , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: Eucalypt , February no. 2 2003;
Cross-Cultural Alliances : Exploring Aboriginal Asian Literary and Cultural Production Peta Stephenson , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: Lost in the Whitewash : Aboriginal-Asian Encounters in Australia, 1901-2001 2003; (p. 143-162)
Peta Stephenson surveys Aboriginal-Asian cross-cultural production, considering representations of Aboriginal-Asian relations, influences on the construction of contemporary Aboriginality, and Aboriginal perceptions of Asian identity.


1998 shortlisted International Awards Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book Award South-East Asia and Pacific Region
shortlisted New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards
shortlisted The Age Book of the Year Award
Last amended 20 Nov 2017 11:33:30