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Author: Alexis Wright
Foreword/Introduction: Arif Ayaz Parrey
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788189059699
Carpentaria starts before time begins. It offers a portrait of a fictional town called Desperance in the Gulf country of north-western Queensland, where whites have pushed the Aboriginal people to the margins. This is where the protagonists, Norm Phantom and Angel Day, live. And their lives are larger than life.
They are, at once, the Gulliver to the Government Giants, and they also are the Queen of Night and the King of the Ocean, powerful spirits that entire towns and seas cannot hold down. Norm seduces all the fish in all the oceans, and no man who could resist Angel’s charms has ever lived.Then there’s the mayor, Stan Bruiser, a bigot capable of limitless brutality, with the credo: ‘If you can’t use it, eat it, or fuck it, then it’s no bloody use to you.’ He abets the entry of the mining company that turns the earth upside down and inside out, bringing out ancient spirits buried with the ore, which then threaten to wipe out the silly town from the face of earth.
Wright’s storytelling is operatic and surreal: a blend of myth and scripture, farce and politics.
Every great novel must introduce us to a new way of looking at the world. It must jeopardize and try to sink the ship of the language which holds it.We must be offered an understanding of
how the tiny, limited universe is made magni?cent and in?nite only by the stories which inhabit it, and which it inhabits. Every great novel must introduce us to new personas living and dying
Carpentaria sets to tell such tall tales that words become inadequate as they shadow and try to keep pace with,the giant ?gures of Alexis Wright’s imagination. For its abstraction, its supreme mastery over metaphor, consider the following sentence: ‘The taunted waves threw themselves higher up onto the beach as though they were the bottom lip of a mouth sulking, trying to reach out to him.’ While gently mocking the established rules of grammar, and in its much more serious questioning of the what and the how of European writing, this novel seems to test how much the ship of English can hold the ore of Aborigine folklore.
It is an ambitious book, majestic in scale, intent upon conquering both time and space, and leaves one with the feeling of reading a work in translation. Many a time the meaning being transported through words makes the words redundant, even absurd.
‘A literary sensation’
== The New York Times
‘This is epic, biblical stuff’
== The Independent
‘Carpentaria [belongs to] the classics sections of bookshelves’
‘The drama unfolds with all the poetry and eclecticism of a Bob Dylan song’
== Publisher’s Weekly
Table of Contents
1. From time immemorial
2. Angel Day
3. Elias Smith comes…and goes
4. Number One house
5. Mozzie Fishman
6. Knowing fish
7. Something about the Phantom family
8. Norm’s resposibility
9. Bala, the child of hope.
10. The giant in the cloak
11. The mine
12. About sending letters
13. The wash
14. Coming back