Shortlisted for the 2024 Stella Prize

Praiseworthy – Alexis Wright

Fiction · Giramondo Publishing


About the Book

 is an epic set in the north of Australia, told with the richness of language and scale of imagery for which Alexis Wright has become renowned. In a small town dominated by a haze cloud, which heralds both an ecological catastrophe and a gathering of the ancestors, a crazed visionary seeks out donkeys as the solution to the global climate crisis and the economic dependency of the Aboriginal people. His wife seeks solace from his madness in following the dance of butterflies and scouring the internet to find out how she can seek repatriation for her Aboriginal/Chinese family to China. One of their sons, called Aboriginal Sovereignty, is determined to commit suicide. The other, Tommyhawk, wishes his brother dead so that he can pursue his dream of becoming white and powerful. This is a novel which pushes allegory and language to its limits, a cry of outrage against oppression and disadvantage, and a fable for the end of days.

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“Fierce and gloriously funny, Praiseworthy is a genre-defiant epic of climate catastrophe proportions.

– 2024 Stella Prize Judges

About the Author

Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The author of the prize-winning novels Carpentaria and The Swan Book, Wright has published three works of non-fiction: Take Power, an oral history of the Central Land Council; Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory; and Tracker, an award-winning collective memoir of Aboriginal leader, Tracker Tilmouth. Her books have been published widely overseas, including in China, the US, the UK, Italy, France and Poland. She held the position of Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne. Wright has won both the Miles Franklin Award and the Stella Prize. Her latest novel is Praiseworthy, which received the Queensland Literary Award for Fiction in 2023. She is the inaugural winner of the Creative Australia Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature.

Further Reading


“The most ambitious and accomplished Australian novel of this century.” Samuel Rutter, New York Times Review of Books

“[Praiseworthy] is Wright’s most enraged, tragic and hopeful novel to date, with a magnificently upbeat denouement.” Jane Gleeson-White, The Conversation

Praiseworthy is designed to challenge readers, with a repetitive, cyclical narrative that mirrors both the frustrating looping of Australia’s failures and an ancestral presence which itself leaps back and forth across time.” Steph Harmon, The Guardian

“Yet besides Indigenous storytelling, the novel’s vernacular poetry, flights of magic realism and lyrical interiority about internalised hatred nod to other ancestors, from Homer, Joyce, García Márquez and Fuentes to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.” Maya Jaggi, The Guardian UK


Praiseworthy was nominated for the Dublin Literary Awards. Read the Nominating Library Comments.

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