Urban imaginaries, homelessness, and the literary city: Alexis Wright’s <i>The Swan Book</i> and Janette Turner Hospital’s <i>The Last Magician</i>


  • David Harris Deakin University


Urban Imaginaries, homelessness, Australia, Alexis Wright, Janette Turner Hospital


With urban imaginaries and city-making in mind, and cognisant of the complicity of cities in socio-ecological crises, this paper responds to recent events in Melbourne and Sydney involving the expansion of certain powers to penalise the disadvantaged and homeless, and to clean up city streets. I discern in these events the material and discursive articulations of capitalist-colonial urban imaginaries. I go on to explore fiction’s capacities to resist these articulations and to affect the real, and the capacities in Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book, and Janette Turner Hospital’s The Last Magician to cultivate readers’ sense of cities as constantly varying, permeable assemblages, rather than as constantly improving, coherent, stable, secure organisms. These novels expand readers’ abilities to transform urban imaginaries and make cities differently.


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