Country and climate change in Alexis Wright's 'The Swan Book'.

Jane Lee Gleeson-White


Alexis Wright’s novel, The Swan Book (2013), set one hundred years in the future on a climate-changed Earth, introduces a new note into her fiction: that of doubt about hope. Extending postcolonial discussions of Wright’s fiction, this essay uses ecocriticism to consider Country and climate change in this novel. It argues that the element of doubt about hope, of despair even, evident in The Swan Book derives from the fact that for the first time in Wright’s fiction the essence of the land—Country—has been altered, by anthropogenically-caused climate change. Drawing on the work of ecocritics Timothy Clark and Adam Trexler, the essay argues that to engage with climate change Wright has introduced formal innovations in her novel; and more overtly figured Western culture in terms of its global manifestation, that is, as Christianity conflated with capitalism. I argue that The Swan Book writes a book of Country into the Christian and other stories of the planet, telling a new story of the earth for an age of climate change.


Ecocriticism; environmental literary criticism; Indigenous studies; Country; climate change

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