Carpentaria

by Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright’s award-winning classic Carpentaria: “a swelling, heaving tsunami of a novel—stinging, sinuous, salted with outrageous humor, sweetened by spiraling lyricism” (The Australian)


Carpentaria is an epic of the Gulf country of northwestern Queensland, Australia. Its portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance centers on the powerful Phantom family, leader of the Westend Pricklebush people, and its battles with old Joseph Midnight’s renegade Eastend mob, on the one hand, and with the white officials of Uptown and the nearby rapacious, ecologically disastrous Gurfurrit mine on the other. Wright’s masterful novel teems with extraordinary characters—the outcast savior Elias Smith, the religious zealot Mozzie Fishman, the murderous mayor Bruiser, the moth-ridden Captain Nicoli Finn, the activist Will Phantom, and above all, the rulers of the family, the queen of the garbage dump and the fish-embalming king of time: Angel Day and Normal Phantom—who stand like giants in a storm-swept world.


Wright’s storytelling is operatic and surreal: a blend of myth and scripture, politics and farce. She has a narrative gift for remaking reality itself, altering along her way, as if casually, the perception of what a novel can do with the inside of the reader’s mind. Carpentaria is “an epic, exhilarating, unsettling novel” (Wall Street Journal) that is not to be missed.