PRAISEWORTHY by Alexis Wright
130 x 200mm, 736 pages, black and white printing, perfect bound, softcover, 2023
In a small Aboriginal town dominated by a haze cloud, which heralds both ecological disaster and a gathering of the ancestors, Cause Man Steel is chasing a mad vision: a national donkey transport scheme that will guarantee his people’s independence forever. He finds, however, as he bundles feral donkeys into his Ford Falcon and dumps them en masse in the cemetery, that not all of Praiseworthy agrees. Outrage ferments at his desecration of traditional land, while Cause’s wife Dance seeks refuge with butterflies and dreams of moving their family to China. Bad feelings reach fever pitch when citizens catch wind of the suicide of Aboriginal Sovereignty, Cause’s eldest son. All are distraught – all, that is, except eight-year-old Tommyhawk Steel, who, with his brother gone, gleefully pursues his dream of becoming white and powerful. Told with the richness of language and scale of imagery for which Alexis Wright has become renowned, Praiseworthy is a marvel of explosive sentences, a shock to allegory, an outraged cry against oppression, and a biting satire for the end of days.