Alexis Wright's Carpentaria opens the window into the experiences and perspectives of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory in Australia. Full of larger-than-life characters and prose that channels the rhythms of Aboriginal speech, Wright's book is anything but mainstream.
The plot marches determinedly through various vignettes and character portraits, but the beauty of the novel lies in its persuasive ability to create a multi-dimensional depiction of a unique world. Though there is an exposition, climax, and conclusion, this novel is more a quilt of intertwining moments, rather than a linear story. Reading Carpentaria is similar to listening to an Aboriginal storyteller weave her tale, and as her arms fly up to illustrate the sea or the movement of fruit bats, so too does the story. Wright is not afraid to spend a few pages describing a small moment or ...
Alexis Wright and the Roots of Carpentaria
The subject for Carpentaria no doubt came from Wright's own experience as a land-rights activist and a member of the Waanyi people, an Aboriginal group who live in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria (map). Wright grew up in Cloncurry, Queensland after her father, a white cattleman, died when she was five. In addition to her fiction, Wright has published two nonfiction works about the Aboriginal experience in Australia, Plains of Promise and Grog's War.
It took her nearly two years to develop the ideas for Carpentaria and nearly six years to write the novel. It was rejected by all the major publishing houses in Australia, but was ultimately published by the independent press Giramondo in 2006. In ...
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