Now reading: The swan book, by Alexis Wright

Alexis Wright, The swan bookAlexis Wright, The swan book (Giramondo 2013)

Alexis Wright received the Miles Franklin Award in 2007 for her previous novel Carpentaria. That book I started three or four times, progressing no further than the first 50 pages through the dump and pricklebush. I persisted, and undertook again the perilous journey that unfolded in the gulf country, through its challenges and rewards and exploits. On the day that Alexis Wright received the Miles Franklin, Prime Minister John Howard declared the Northern Territory Intervention, mobilising the army and welfare services into remote and urban Aboriginal communities.

Set in a distant future where climate change has radically altered the planet, the army intervention still oversees the swamp people of The swan book. Wright is scathing in her attack on politicians and policies on all sides of politics, red and blue and green, and black and white and yellow. Her humour is black as the mythical emu in the night sky. Her characters are outrageous exaggerations. Warren Finch, the post-racial half-caste, the first Indigenous President of Australia. The mute Ethylene Oblivion, gang-raped as a child and rescued from a spirit tree. And a cast of brolgas and black swans amid a living breathing morphing landscape, a living landscape, a country in full meaning of the word. Another challenging read.

More of what I have read can be found under INFLUENCES.