Alexis Wright's second novel, Carpentaria, received critical acclaim upon its publication by Giramondo in 2006. As the recipient of the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2007, Carpentaria cemented Wright's position as the country's foremost Indigenous novelist. This article places Carpentaria within contemporary discussions of “big, ambitious novels” by contemporary women novelists by examining the ways the novel simultaneously invites and resists its inclusion into an established canon of “great Australian novels” (GANs). While critics have been quick to celebrate the formal innovations of Carpentaria as what makes it worthy of GAN status, the novel nevertheless opposes the integrationist and homogenizing myths that accompany canonization. Therefore, the article finds that Wright's vision of a future Australia involves moments of antagonism and mutual understanding between white settler and Indigenous communities. This article uses the work of Homi Bhabha to argue that Carpentaria demonstrates the emergence of a third space wherein negotiation between these two cultures produces knowledge that is “new, neither the one nor the other.” In so doing, Wright shows the resilience of Indigenous knowledge even as it is subject to transformation upon contact with contradictory ideological and epistemological frameworks.

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