Country always tells its people that there are endless ways of reading its world, depending on whether you are a moth, a butterfly, a dragonfly, a mountain chain, the sea, a river, moon, or stars, or the atmosphere itself.” – Alexis Wright, Praiseworthy

To begin our 2024 program, the Stories from the South Book Club will read Praiseworthy, the latest novel from Waanyi author and Miles Franklin Award winner Alexis Wright. 

Wright will join us at Dymocks Rundle Mall on February 27 for a live discussion of her new release. She will be in conversation with Nicholas Jose, whose most recent novel The Idealist was published by Giramondo this year, and Theodora Galanis, from the University of Adelaide.

Nicholas Jose at the Stories from the South Book Club. Photo: David Osu Ishaya

Wright’s 736-page epic tale is set in the titular Praiseworthy, a town smothered by an immovable cloud of dust. Under this orange haze, we meet a cast of charismatic characters: Cause Man Steel, his wife Dance, and their children Aboriginal Sovereignty and Tommyhawk. They are joined by “extinction-less” elders, thousands of butterflies, hoards of grey donkeys, the Giant Kelp Hair Sea Lady, and many others.

Against a backdrop of environmental destruction and colonial violence, Praiseworthy tells stories that speak to the imaginative power of Country. Wright evokes the oral storytelling traditions that have informed much of her work, including titles like Carpentaria, The Swan Book and Tracker.

Praiseworthy is a long read. The novel itself offers instructions for how to approach it: “Listen! … Look proper way. Carefully. See detail, if you want to see properly” (p 368). Against the “twaddle dazzle” of “new world” thought, this book moves with the pace of “old world thinking” (p 291). Readers will be rewarded for moving slowly through its pages. 

Join us for this in-person conversation with Alexis Wright on Tuesday, February 27, at 6.30-8pm at Dymocks Rundle Mall. A ticket link will be posted in February to register your attendance at this free event. Follow InReview and the Stories from the South page to stay updated. 

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