Feminist Fables and Alexis Wright's Art of the Fabulous in The Swan Book

Susan Sheridan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two recent award-winning Australian novels, both of a dystopian cast of mind, Alexis Wright's 'The Swan Book' (2013) and Charlotte Wood's 'The Natural Way of Things' (2015), employ fable to tell powerful contemporary stories. In both novels the issues explored are so violent and threatening to life itself that fable rather than realist narrative becomes the best vehicle for staging them. Here I begin by comparing these two novels briefly, considering the different meanings and uses that "fable" might have for a novelist dealing with such issues of violence (colonial, patriarchal, ecological). I go on to suggest some connections between the uses of fable made by these two novelists and some important feminist writers of the late twentieth century, most notably Angela Carter. The remainder of the essay is focussed on 'The Swan Book' and the way Wright uses the forms of fable to write a story geared to catastrophic times of climate change, representing country as a living entity and inventing a new fable of the black swan and the swan woman.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-214
Number of pages18
Issue number1&2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • Feminism--Social aspects
  • Art and philosophy
  • Refugees--Political activity
  • Misogyny


Dive into the research topics of 'Feminist Fables and Alexis Wright's Art of the Fabulous in The Swan Book'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this