'The new novel by Alexis Wright, whose previous novel Carpentaria won 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)
'In this essay, I consider postmodernist tendencies in two recent climate change novels, Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book (2013) and Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea (2014). While I hesitate to claim that these herald a distinct postmodern turn in climate change fiction, I argue that these novels’ postmodernist self-awareness constitutes a promising new direction for fiction in the Anthropocene. Displaying a postcolonial awareness and deploying the postmodernist strategies of metafiction and magical realism, the novels undermine the omniscience of third-person narrators and the reliability of focalizers in order simultaneously to destabilize realist, imperialist, and anthropocentric constructions of the world. Indeed, they not only question the dominance of master-narratives; they question domination per se. That is, in these novels, voice itself comes under suspicion as an anthropocentric fallacy.' (Publication abstract)
'Reading and writing must be more than passive processes of mimetic display; rather, they should offer a platform for psychological transformations across race and gender. Thus literary sovereignty vis-a-vis ownership of creative expression and representations of self can be reclaimed.This essay offers close analysis of contemporary Australian Indigenous literature to explore the sovereignty of feminist psychologies. Does creative writing reﬂect a strengthening of female Indigenous psychologies, and how might this implicate race relations and the decolonization of textual worlds? These questions are inspired by Alexis Wright’s most recent novel The Swan Book where she writes about “the quest to regain sovereignty over [her] own brain.” This article will explore the term craziness in a metaphorical sense: looking at whether rejecting dominant white culture equates to psychological sovereignty, improved mental well-being, and better race relations in imaginary realms. Indigenous characters in Wright’s The Swan Book and Marie Munkara’s Every Secret Thing may appear “crazy” for living in a state of indifference, but paradoxically, it is this state of “craziness” or indifference that empowers them to ﬁnd psycho-logical peace and resist assimilation. Seeking psychological sovereignty means assuming a position so averse to patriarchy and colonization that it renders transformation in imaginary worlds,and urges transformation in the psyches of white readers too.' (Publication abstract)
'The first decades of the twenty-first century have been beset by troubling social realities: coalition warfare, global terrorism and financial crisis, climate change, epidemics of family violence, violence toward women, addiction, neo-colonialism, continuing racial and religious conflict. While traumas involving large-scale or historical violence are widely represented in trauma theory, familial trauma is still largely considered a private matter, associated with personal failure. This book contributes to the emerging field of feminist trauma theory by bringing focus to works that contest this tendency, offering new understandings of the significance of the literary testimony and its relationship to broader society.
'The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma adopts an interdisciplinary approach in examining how the literary testimony of familial transgenerational trauma, with its affective and relational contagion, illuminates transmissive cycles of trauma that have consequences across cultures and generations. It offers bold and insightful readings of works that explore those consequences in story-Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006), Hélène Cixous's Hyperdream (2009), Marguerite Duras's The Lover (1992), Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy (1999), and Alexis Wright's Carpentaria (2006) and The Swan Book (2013), concluding that such testimony constitutes a fundamentally feminist experiment and encounter. The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma challenges the casting of familial trauma in ahistorical terms, and affirms both trauma and writing as social forces of political import.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'By far the best-known Aboriginal author covered in this study is Alexis Wright. As indicated in the Introduction, Wright is, alongside Kim Scott, the most frequently discussed Aboriginal author in and outside Australia. One reason for this remarkable global interest lies in the fact that her novel Carpentaria won the 2007 Miles Franklin Literary Award; another is that her other novels have reached international English-speaking and non-English speaking markets.' (Introduction)
'In the opening pages of The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (1973), Todorov evokes the image of a tiger to draw a parallel between changes in the biological and literary “species”:
Being familiar with the species tiger, we can deduce from it the properties of each individual tiger; the birth of a new tiger does not modify the species in its definition. […] The same is not the case in the realm of art or of science. Here evolution operates with an altogether different rhythm: every work modifies the sum of possible works, each new example alters the species. (6)' (Introduction)