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Issue Details: First known date: 2006... 2006 Carpentaria
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

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)



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  • Dedication: For Toly.
  • Author's note: Inspired by all of the beauty that comes from having an ancient homeland that is deeply loved by those who guard it, and especially by my countrymen, Murrandoo Yanner and Clarence Waldon.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Artarmon, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Giramondo Publishing , 2006 .
      person or book cover
      Image courtesy of Giramondo Publishing
      Extent: 519p.
      Reprinted: 2012
      ISBN: 1920882170, 9781920882303 (limited ed. : hbk), 9781920882310 (pbk)
    • London,
      United Kingdom (UK),
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Constable ,
      2008 .
      image of person or book cover 3122706879871186006.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 439p.
      ISBN: 9781845297213
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      United States of America (USA),
      Atria Books ,
      2009 .
      image of person or book cover 7196117149774898480.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: x, 517p.
      Edition info: 1st Atria Books hardcover Ed.
      ISBN: 9781416593102 (hbk.) 1416593101
Alternative title: I cacciatori di stelle
Language: Italian
    • Milan,
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Rizzoli ,
      2008 .
      image of person or book cover 7291344916482137700.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 550p.
      ISBN: 9788817023825

Other Formats

  • Sound recording.
  • Braille.
  • Large print.
  • Dyslexic edition.

Works about this Work

Sung by an Indigenous Siren : Epic and Epistemology in Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria Cornelis Martin Renes , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: Coolabah , no. 27 2019;

'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)

Modern Times : The Great Australian Novel Andrew Hunter , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: The Adelaide Review , November no. 477 2019; (p. 14)
Here's the Story of Pirate the Cockatoo, the Hissing White Ghost Who Became Boss of My Heart Alexis Wright , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 31 October 2019;

'I ended up incorporating him into my novel Carpentaria, where he now looms larger than life.' (Introduction)

Indigenous Temporality and Climate Change in Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria (2006) Lucy Rowland , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Postcolonial Writing , vol. 55 no. 4 2019; (p. 541-554)

'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)

Valuing Country : Let Me Count Three Ways Jane Gleeson-White , 2019 single work essay
— Appears in: Griffith Review , January no. 63 2019; (p. 171-191)

'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)

When the Narrator's Art Matches the Magical Storytelling Alison Ravenscroft , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 19 August 2006; (p. 22)

— Review of Carpentaria Alexis Wright , 2006 single work novel
Calming Influence in Balance Fraught with Pain Peter Pierce , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 2 September 2006; (p. 13)

— Review of Carpentaria Alexis Wright , 2006 single work novel
Phantasmagorical Tale Fills a Legendary Landscape Liam Davison , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 16-17 September 2006; (p. 32-33)

— Review of Carpentaria Alexis Wright , 2006 single work novel
Small-Town Dreaming Katharine England , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 30 September 2006; (p. 10)

— Review of Carpentaria Alexis Wright , 2006 single work novel
A Weird Mob Sally Blakeney , 2006 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 10 October vol. 124 no. 6541 2006; (p. 70)

— Review of Carpentaria Alexis Wright , 2006 single work novel
The Call of the Claypans Jane Sullivan , 2006 single work biography
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 9-10 September 2006; (p. 30-31)
From Here to Carpentaria Jane Sullivan , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Age , 9 September 2006; (p. 26-27)
Dispatches from the Reviewing Front ... Stephen Matchett , 2006 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian Literary Review , October vol. 1 no. 2 2006; (p. 22)
Matchett comments on reviews of the three books listed here as subjects.
A List Both Short and Sweet James Ley , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 28-29 April 2007; (p. 37)
On Writing Carpentaria Alexis Wright , 2007 single work criticism
— Appears in: Heat , no. 13 (New Series) 2007; (p. 79-95) The Canberra Times , 23 June 2007; (p. B4)

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.'

Last amended 27 Nov 2019 13:57:18
  • Gulf of Carpentaria area, Far North Queensland, Queensland,
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