'One of Australia’s most distinguished Indigenous authors, Alexis Wright, stages the fleeting presence of a popular character of Northern European folklore, the mermaid, in an awarded novel of epic proportions. The mermaid is not a haphazard appearance in this Antipodean narrative, but one of the multiple, cross-cultural ways in which Carpentaria, first published in 2006, invites the reader to reflect upon the ongoing tensions between the disenfranchised Indigenous minority and the empowered non-Indigenous mainstream, and their serious lack of communication due to the antagonistic character of their respective universes, one rooted in a capitalist paradigm of ruthless economic exploitation and the other in a holistic, environmentalist one of country. This essay addresses how Carpentaria, by writing across Indigenous and European genres and epistemologies, makes a call for the deconstruction of colonial discourse, for an invigorating Indigenous inscription into country, and for intellectual sovereignty as the condition sine-qua-non for the Indigenous community to move forward.' (Publication abstract)
'I ended up incorporating him into my novel Carpentaria, where he now looms larger than life.' (Introduction)
'This article considers Alexis Wright’s 2006 novel Carpentaria in relation to climate change and temporality. Through an appraisal of previous critical work on the novel, an analysis of its anti-linear structure and stylistic organization, and close textual engagement with the novel’s latent critique of western temporal frameworks, it argues that Carpentaria presents a specifically Indigenous Waanyi temporality of climate change and environmental damage that resists a linear Anthropocene teleology, whilst registering the threat of climate change and environmental disaster to Indigenous livelihoods. This approach identifies the inherent problems with linear understandings of time, and defines how these are entangled with the silencing of Aboriginal histories and threat to Indigenous survival. Ultimately, the article argues that the novel’s centralizing of Indigenous experience articulates a specific Indigenous Australian cultural approach to climate change and environmental disaster, which should be included in global conversations on climate change literature.' (Publication abstract)
'It was reading Alexis Wright's novel 'Carpentaria' (Giramondo, 2006) in 2007 that introduced me to the idea of 'country': land as a living being with meaning, personality, will, a temper and ancient reciprocal relationships with its people governed by law. This made sense to me. I've felt the living presence of this land and I care deeply about how we treat it. I'm especially interested in how our thinking about land shapes our behaviour towards it. And I've been preoccupied by ideas of country and two new ways of conceiving it - 'natural capital' and 'rights of nature' - that seek to address the many ecological crises currently afflicting our planet.' (Publication abstract)
Wright describes what drove her to write her novel Carpentaria, stating that 'For a long time while I was exploring how to write Carpentaria, I tried to come to some understanding of two principal questions: firstly, how to understand the idea of Indigenous people living with the stories of all the times of this country, and secondly, how to write from this perspective.'