Alexis Wright

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Alexis Wright

Born (1950-11-25) 25 November 1950 (age 71)
Cloncurry, Queensland, Australia[1]
OccupationAuthor, novelist
GenreFiction, non-fiction
Notable worksCarpentaria, Tracker

Alexis Wright FAHA (born 25 November 1950)[2] is a Waanyi (Aboriginal Australian) writer best known for winning the Miles Franklin Award for her 2006 novel Carpentaria[3] and the 2018 Stella Prize for her "collective memoir" of Leigh Bruce "Tracker" Tilmouth.[4]

As of 2020, Wright has produced three novels, one biography, and several works of prose. Her work also appears in anthologies and journals.[5]

Origin and activism[edit]

Alexis Wright is a land rights activist from the Waanyi nation in the highlands of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria. Wright's father, a white cattleman, died when she was five years old and she grew up in Cloncurry, Queensland, with her mother and grandmother.[6]

When the Northern Territory Intervention proposed by the Howard Government in mid-2007 was introduced, Wright delivered a high-profile 10,000-word speech, sponsored by International PEN,[7] in which her identification of an ethos of national fear in Australia came to be portrayed in the national media as a characterisation of the feelings of Indigenous peoples associated with the Intervention.[citation needed]

Literary career[edit]

Alexis Wright's first book, the novel Plains of Promise, published in 1997, was nominated for several literary awards and has been reprinted several times by University of Queensland Press.[8]

Wright is also the author of non-fiction works: Take Power, on the history of the land rights movement, was published in 1998, and Grog War (Magabala Books) on the introduction of alcohol restrictions in Tennant Creek, published in 1997.[citation needed]

Her second novel, Carpentaria, took two years to conceive and more than six years to write. It was rejected by every major publisher in Australia before independent publisher Giramondo published it in 2006. Since then it has won the Miles Franklin Award in June 2007, the 2007 Fiction Book award in the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, the 2007 ALS Gold Medal and the 2007 Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction.[3][9][10]

Wright was a 2012 attendee of the Byron Bay Writers Festival[11] and Singapore Writers Festival.[12]

Also in 2013, Wright's third novel, The Swan Book, was published. The book delves into the cultural and racial political challenges facing Australia's Indigenous peoples.[13] It was shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Indigenous Writing.[14]

In 2014 Wright was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.[15]

Wright's book, Tracker, her tribute to the central Australian economist Tracker Tilmouth, was published by Giramondo in 2017. A biographical work variously characterized as unconventional[16] and complicated,[17] Tracker won the 2018 Stella Prize.[18] In the words of Ben Etherington: "It is a work, epic in scope and size, that will ensure that a legend of Central Australian politics is preserved in myth."[19] She was awarded the 2018 Magarey Medal for Biography for Tracker.[20] Tracker also won the 2018 University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award at the Queensland Literary Awards.[21] and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards, Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction 2019.[22] Wright was on the program for four events at the 2017 Brisbane Writers Festival in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.[23]

In 2018, Wright conducted another storytelling collaboration, this time with the Gangalidda leader and activist Clarence Walden in Doomadgee, Northern Queensland. Her work with Walden led to two feature documentaries, Nothing but the Truth, a radio feature that broadcast on the Awaye! program on ABC Radio National in June 2019,[24] and Straight from the Heart, a screen documentary that premiered at World Literature and the Global South in August 2019.[25]

Academic career[edit]

Wright is a Distinguished Research Fellow at Western Sydney University.[26]

Wright is currently a member of the Australian Research Council research project "Other Worlds: Forms of World Literature".[27] Building on her success with Tracker, her theme for the project focuses on forms of Aboriginal oral storytelling.[28]

In 2017, Wright was named the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne.[29]



  • Plains of Promise (University of Queensland Press, 1997). Reprint 2000, ISBN 978-0702229176
  • Carpentaria (Sydney: Giramondo, 2006)
  • The Swan Book (Sydney: Giramondo, 2013)

Short stories

  • Le pacte du serpent arc-en-ciel. [The Serpent’s Covenant] (Acte Sud, 2002). ISBN 978-2742740956



  • Take Power, Like This Old Man Here: An anthology of writings celebrating twenty years of land rights in Central Australia, 1977–1997 (IAD, 1998). ISBN 1-86465-005-2


  1. ^ "Premier Applauds Queensland Miles Franklin Winner". Queensland Government. 22 June 2007. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  2. ^ Who's Who in Australia. Crown Content. p. 2207.
  3. ^ a b "Wright wins Miles Franklin". 21 June 2007.
  4. ^ "THE 2018 STELLA PRIZE". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  5. ^ Austlit. "AustLit Search Results (3) - Found a total of 3 results for query scope: null, work query: wform:". Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  6. ^ Wyndham, Susan (22 June 2007). "Gulf country's voice shines in Australian epic". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  7. ^ "Sydney PEN Voices: The 3 Writers Project". International PEN Article Archive. 4 July 2007. Archived from the original on 4 July 2007. Retrieved 7 December 2010.
  8. ^ "Australia Council: Arts in Australia: Alexis Wright". Archived from the original on 31 August 2007.
  9. ^ "ALS Gold Medal". Association for the Study of Australian Literature. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  10. ^ "The Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction: Winner 2007". State Library of Victoria. 10 August 2007. Archived from the original on 11 September 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
  11. ^ Corrie Perkin (27 June 2012). "A great month for writers' festivals". Archived from the original on 25 April 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  12. ^ "Continuing with this week's SWF Sneaks", Singapore Writers Festival, 9 July 2012.
  13. ^ The Swan Book. 16 January 2018. ISBN 978-1-5011-2479-2.
  14. ^ "Lucashenko wins 2014 Vic Prem's Literary Award for Indigenous Writing". Books+Publishing. 4 September 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Fellows: Alexis Wright". Australian Academy of the Humanities. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  16. ^ Morris, Linda (12 April 2018). "Alexis Wright's unconventional biography wins the Stella Prize". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  17. ^ Romei, Stephen (12 April 2018). "Stella to indigenous writer Alexis Wright for Tracker's tale". The Australian.
  18. ^ Convery, Stephanie (12 April 2018). "Alexis Wright wins Stella prize for 'majestic' biography of Tracker Tilmouth". the Guardian.
  19. ^ Etherington, Ben (12 April 2018). "Alexis Wright wins 2018 Stella Prize for Tracker, an epic feat of Aboriginal storytelling". The Conversation.
  20. ^ "Wright awarded 2018 Magarey Medal". Books+Publishing. 4 July 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  21. ^ "Queensland Literary Awards 2018 winners announced | Books+Publishing". Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  22. ^ Perkins, Cathy (Summer 2019). "Excellence in Literature and History". SL Magazine. 12 (4): 52–55.
  23. ^ "Brisbane Writers Festival". Uplit. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  24. ^ "Nothing but the truth". Radio National. 7 June 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  25. ^ "World Literatures and the Global South". The University of Sydney. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Alexis Wright – The Drum Opinion". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  27. ^ "Forms of World Literature", Other Worlds.
  28. ^ "Oral Storytelling". Other Worlds. 18 October 2018.
  29. ^ Steger, Jason (27 November 2017). "Alexis Wright named professor of Australian literature at Melbourne University". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 31 August 2018.

External links[edit]