Praiseworthy by Alexis Wright – Our Review


Our Review…

Set in the fictional community of “tidy town award winning” Praiseworthy, Wright’s novel is the story emerging from a “haze” afflicting the country that represents a plethora of issues from the intergenerational trauma of Aboriginal people and the comfortable ignorance of modern day white Australia to the environmental devastation of the Anthropocene and ongoing disaster of climate change. 

Every character in Wright’s novel is so much more than a character; they are all metaphors for the deep connections to the lands the Aboriginal people have taken care of for over 80000 years and the complex, nuanced, and individual battles Aboriginal people still face for recognition in a modern Australian society still intent on forgetting and assimilating. (Made even more poignant the referendum of 2023). 

This is so much more than a novel. More than an epic. Zeitgeist comes close but still falls short of what Alexis Wright has achieved in Praiseworthy. Wright’s amalgamation of historical fiction, personal tragedy and farce with elegiac prose that champions the Dreamtime, Songlines and the tradition of oral storytelling is inimitable. 

It has been said that, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” In this way, Wright’s epic is everything art and literature can and should be. 

Not just my book of the year for 2023, this takes a place in my Top 10 of all time. 

Review by Katina @ Great Escape Books