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...
Beyond the Book
Aboriginal Land Rights
Carpentaria is essentially a novel about the clash of cultures, told from the perspective of the Aboriginal people of Australia. Just as the book illustrates, there is still debate in Australia about who can legitimately claim rights to the land - indigenous Australians, or descendants of the original European settlers. From the earliest contact with British settlers through the reeducation campaigns of the late twentieth century, the Aboriginal peoples have been effectively marginalized from democratic society.
As did many colonial regimes,...