Nominated by:

The State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Publisher of nominated edition:

Giromondo Publishing, Australia

The Swan Book

Alexis Wright      

2015 Longlist

The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under The Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute young woman called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city. The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale, has Oblivia Ethylene in the company of amazing characters like Aunty Bella Donna of the Champions, the Harbour Master, Big Red and the Mechanic, a talking monkey called Rigoletto, three genies with doctorates, and throughout, the guiding presence of swans.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her books include Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in Tennant Creek, and the novels Plains of Promise, and Carpentaria, which won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Victorian and Queensland Premiers’ Awards and the ALS Gold Medal, and was published in the US, UK, China, Italy, France, Spain and Poland. She is a Distinguished Fellow in the University of Western Sydney’s Writing and Society Research Centre.

Librarian’s Comments

Alexis Wright’s novel mixes farce and politics to tell the tale of a dystopian post-climate change Australia in which Indigenous Australians still live under The Intervention. The novel recounts the life of Oblivia Ethyl, a mute indigenous woman traumatized by rape who marries the fist Aboriginal president of Australia. This highly imaginative dark novel uses myth, legends and poetry to explore contemporary issues affecting Indigenous Australians and the effects of climate change. The Swan Book has been shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s literary Awards, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and the Australian Literature Society Award.

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