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Read an extract from Alexis Wright’s Praiseworthy

Serving as a both an examination of climate disaster and a rallying cry against oppression, Alexis Wright’s new novel Praiseworthy, her first book in a decade, is eagerly anticipated by readers the world over.

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 Chapter 1, pp. 1-2

Kulibibi. Baba yalu kurrkamala, jaja,
(butterflies are flying everywhere)
Waanyi dictionary, 2012

Oracle 1…speak.

Beginning with story…

Once upon a fine time for some people in the world, but not so plenteous, nor perfect for others, there lived a culture dreamer obsessing about the era. He was no great dreamer, no greater than the rest of the juggernauts in his heartbroken, storm-country people’s humanity. They knew just as much as he did about surviving on a daily basis, and about how to make sacrifices of themselves in all the cataclysmic times generated by the mangy dogs who had stolen their traditional land. These people, after the generations of dealing with the land-thief criminals like many others around the world, had turned themselves, not into a tangled web of despair, but into some of the best fighters of all times. They used pure guts for improving life, and said they were in it for the long run. Theirs was a sovereign world view – the main view acceptable to their governing ancestors, a law grown through belief in its own endlessness, and through re-setting the survival barometer from millennia a couple of hundred years ago, by evolving a new gauge – something like a moth’s sonar, for only hearing what it wanted to hear. But, to be frank, the facet worked like a shield, for seeing what they wanted to see of the world, or to shut the whole thing out forever. And for deciding whether they wanted to speak at all, for sometimes, this world never spoke for years, then when it did, spoke wreckage words – like a piece of heaven heavy with intent, firing on all cylinders from the sky.

So this dreamer fellow really had some nerve speaking doubt stuff in the God gravitas of these clergy-oriented people, and like, acting as though he was a better type of Jesus, more Messiah than they were themselves, while preaching from the unpopular pulpit of himself out on the street corner every other Sunday in front of all their self defined denominational churches, and always, like too many times before, asking the same old question: Hey! Mob! What’s the future going to be, whatnot!

There was not a single soul in Praiseworthy who believed this fellow was real, for asking such a ridiculous question in this day and age, and right in front of the world’s greatest human survivors. Weren’t they the real business people of all times? Extinction-less tempest people from enduring one million storms, come from the ark of infinity right down to the last baby. They were now forced to speak, and yelled that they knew a thing or two about being trodden upon, and of being more on trend than the rest of humanity about how to look after the future. They would tell you themselves how they had to assert too much nervous-wreck type of anger in their voices: We studied everything you needed to know about surviving from the biggest library in the world – country. You only had to take a quick look around Praiseworthy to see all the stories were about surviving. You do not need some redundant bullshit-artist person continually harping on with his eternal question, You mob ever tried thinking about what the future of the place got to look like?

The world spins
, he was told this fact thing pretty much frankly by the multitudes of insulted people. It always spins. The world is like a big spin dryer.


This is an extract from Praiseworthy by Alexis Wright, published by Giramondo.

Alexis Wright appears in conversation with Daniel James at Montalto on 27 April 2023.

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.