The layering of time and the riot of language are Wright’s great themes and raw materials, and in “Praiseworthy” — the most ambitious and accomplished Australian novel of this century — they twist and shimmer, doomed forever to their violent pas de deux.

Samuel Rutter, The New York Times Book Review

An astonishing and monumental masterpiece from the towering Australian writer Alexis Wright, whose “words explode from the page” (The Monthly)


Fiction by Alexis Wright





In a small town in the north of Australia, a mysterious haze cloud heralds both an ecological catastrophe and a gathering of the ancestors. A visionary on his own holy quest, Cause Man Steel seeks the perfect platinum donkey to launch an Aboriginal-owned donkey transport industry, saving Country and the world from fossil fuels. His wife, Dance, seeking solace from his madness, studies butterflies and moths and dreams of repatriating her family to China. One of their sons, named Aboriginal Sovereignty, is determined to end it all by walking into the sea. Their other child, Tommyhawk, wants nothing more than to be adopted by Australia’s most powerful white woman. Praiseworthy is an epic masterpiece that bends time and reality—a cry of outrage against oppression, greed, and assimilation.

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Portrait of Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright

A prize-winning novelist and nonfiction writer, and a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The layering of time and the riot of language are Wright’s great themes and raw materials, and in “Praiseworthy” — the most ambitious and accomplished Australian novel of this century — they twist and shimmer, doomed forever to their violent pas de deux.

Samuel Rutter, The New York Times Book Review

A shimmering vision of the legacy of colonialism in Australia, and the reasons for optimism in hoping for greater justice and autonomy for its Indigenous peoples.

Kirkus Reviews

This freewheeling and heartbreaking masterpiece from Aboriginal Australian author Alexis Wright brims with the magic of myth and the painful realities of present-day climate change. At once lush and relentless, Wright’s looping tale combines magical realism, absurdism, and maximalism in a rich depiction of contemporary Aboriginal life. This is unforgettable.

Publishers Weekly (starred)

I’m awed by the range, experiment and political intelligence of Wright’s work: she is vital on the subject of land and people.

Robert Macfarlane, The New York Times Book Review

Wright’s vision is dark, humour tar-black, narration irrepressible, language roiling and rococo. All life, as in Balzac, is here, on a scale far bigger than anything the caffeinated Frenchman envisioned: Wright gives us the living and the dead, material and non-material, Country and people; all the masters dreamed of, and all they neglected to; the entire human (and non-human) comedy. . . . The sense is of Country cheerfully accommodating everything: high and low, chaos and epiphany, farce and deep time. Long after the lesser concerns of contemporary fiction have ceased to matter, the work of Alexis Wright will remain.

Declan Fry, The Guardian (Australia)

Praiseworthy is classic Wright: a book made of beautiful, mutable and playful language. . . These seven hundred-odd pages are chock full of stunning, exhilarating sentences that lead you around by the nose, taking you to some very unexpected places. Wright stretches sentences to their limits; when you think you’re over one sentence, sick of it even, you land on the most satisfying note.

Mykaela Saunders, Sydney Review of Books

Wright has already proved herself one of Australia’s deepest and
most urgent thinkers. In her new novel Praiseworthy, she synthesises the themes and forms of her past work—including Carpentaria, The Swan Book and Tracker—and arrives at a furious and dense epic satirising white Australia’s ongoing attacks on the colonised.

Steph Harmon, The Guardian (Australia)

Incandescent… Praiseworthy suggests what would be lost were assimilation to succeed: vital knowledge for the future of humankind gleaned from the ‘biggest library in the world – country.’ Yet its anguished elegy is offset by a confidence in survival, born of a long view of tens of thousands of years.

Maya Jaggi, The Guardian

[An] extraordinary novel … which reveals an Australia where myth and reality meet.

BBC Open Book, Radio 4

A deeply contemplated novel concerned with issues of sovereignty, ongoing colonisation and climate change that is both timely and urgent. Praiseworthy is simultaneously satirical, comic, and lyrical. A work of stunning exhilarating sentences that builds to an extended elegy and ode to Aboriginal storytelling, lore, and sovereignty.

Queensland Literary Awards, judges’ comments

Alexis Wright's Praiseworthy should be the last novel ever published: it's the ultimate expression of what fiction can do, a marvelous beast that gobbles and spits up all genres; whispers and screams and moans in all registers; and the vision of our world that it casts back in its distorted funhouse mirror seems more real than piddling reality itself.

Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books

Right now I’m also immersed in the incendiary beauty of Alexis Wright’s Praiseworthy, a monumental novel that documents ecological catastrophe and Aboriginal lives in blistering prose.

Preti Taneja, The New Statesman

An impassioned environmental Ulysses of the Northern Territory. Playful, formally innovative, multi-storied, allegorical, protean and dizzyingly exhilarating, it is long, lyrical and enraged—James Joyce crossed with Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Bruce Chatwin and Arundhati Roy.

Ruth Padel, The Spectator

There are few books in Australian literature more epic than Praiseworthy and few books as dense with poetry.

Claire G. Coleman, The Saturday Paper

A literary feat deeply concerned with issues of sovereignty, colonisation and climate change. . . timely and urgent, complex and absorbing, [Praiseworthy is] a book that demands, and captures, its readers’ full attention.

Gemma Nisbet, West Australian

An abundant odyssey that contains a formidable vision of Australia’s future. This is a long journey through the imagination, a novel both urgent and deeply contemplated... The rich interrelations of ancestral spirits, larger-than-life characters, and Country all derive from the Aboriginal traditions of storytelling. But there are also signs of literary influence from every compass point on the map, including, most notably, the surrealism and magic realism of writers such as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez.

The Age

Praiseworthy blew me away... If you think you know what assimilation is, you should read Praiseworthy and think again.

Australian Book Review

A trippy, mind-blowing, allegorical, and powerfully political book, Praiseworthy takes you to another world (the small titular town of Praiseworthy, suffering under a haze cloud and under racism), and makes that world real and makes you care deeply.


Praiseworthy is Alexis Wright’s most formidable act of imaginative synthesis yet. A hero’s journey for an age of global warming, a devastating story of young love caught between two laws, and an extended elegy and ode to Aboriginal law and sovereignty. . . Wright has surpassed herself—Praiseworthy is the thing itself.

Jane Gleeson-White, The Conversation

Like opera, Wright’s writing operates in many modes, not just satirical, but comedic, lyrical, absurd, a lament, a screed, a manifesto, and often within paragraphs or even sentences that wind on like the lines of migrating butterflies that flit through the novel. . . It is one of the most exhilarating reading experiences I can imagine.

James Whitmore, The Library is Open

A book you don’t so much read but experience and inhabit ... Praiseworthy says plenty worth saying, perhaps in the only way it could be said. Praiseworthy indeed.

Joshua Rees, Buzz Mag

Wright is writing the way Rothko paints, stacking incredibly thin layers of paint to create a kind of fluid chromatic density.

Josh Cook

Thoroughly original and refreshingly honest.

Ian Gill, The Tyee