Wed. May 29th, 2024

Alexis Wright wins Stella Prize for second time with ‘most ambitious novel of this century’

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May13,2024
Key Points
  • Wright beat 227 other entries with her award-winning novel, Praiseworthy..
  • Praiseworthy is set around the time of the Howard government’s 2007 intervention, in which army troops were deployed to communities in the Northern Territory.
  • She began writing the novel about a decade ago
It wouldn’t do Australians any harm to give their brains a workout by reading big books, author Alexis Wright says.
“People are happy to go to the gym and have a good physical workout, it won’t do any harm to have a good workout of your mind as well,” she told AAP.

At more than 700 pages, Wright’s latest novel Praiseworthy is a big book in more than one sense with the New York Times describing it as “the most ambitious and accomplished Australian novel of this century”.

It’s now won the $60,000 Stella Prize for Australian women’s writing, beating 227 other entries and making Wright the first author to win the award twice.

“Readers will be buoyed by Praiseworthy’s aesthetic and technical quality, and winded by the tempestuous pace of Wright’s political satire,” said the judging panel, which was unanimous in awarding the prize to Wright.

Her sprawling tale is about the inhabitants of a small town that has been enveloped in a cloud of haze — both a sign from Aboriginal ancestors and a manifestation of ecological catastrophe.
The characters’ responses to the situation are rich in allegory and vary from comical to tragic: one hatches a plan to replace Qantas with a national carrier of pack animals — Australia’s five million feral donkeys.

Another dreams of being white and powerful, and a third, tellingly named Aboriginal Sovereignty, becomes suicidal.

Praiseworthy is set around the time of the Howard government’s 2007 intervention, in which army troops were deployed to communities in the Northern Territory.
Wright long ago pledged to challenge herself in whatever she wrote, and her ambition has been building for years, in three previous novels including the Miles-Franklin winning Carpentaria, and works of non-fiction such as her previous Stella winner, Tracker.
She began writing the novel about a decade ago and penned much of it while working as the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne.
It required many starts and restarts, as Wright attempted to evoke the slow pulse of central and northern Australia, and her publisher Giramondo waited for the manuscript.

Her intention was no less than to capture the scale of the era and its immense difficulties, challenging readers’ inattention and attempting to supplant it with deep understanding.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Alexis Wright wins Stella Prize for second time with ‘most ambitious novel of this century’”
  1. As an avid reader, I find Alexis Wright’s work to be truly captivating and thought-provoking. Her ability to weave intricate narratives with deep social commentary is unparalleled. Congratulations to her on winning the Stella Prize once again!

  2. Did Alexis Wright write her award-winning novel, Praiseworthy, entirely on her own or did she collaborate with other authors?

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