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Wake In Fright

Wake In Fright

Text Classics

Kenneth Cook and Peter Temple

The controller stood back.
‘Right,’ he said. ‘Spin 

The man flipped the piece of wood and the coins spun up into the air above his head and dropped down on to the carpet.
There was silence.

Wake in Fright tells the tale of John Grant’s journey into an alcoholic, sexual and spiritual nightmare. It is the original and the greatest outback horror story. Bundanyabba and its citizens will forever haunt its readers.

Wake in Fright was made into a film in 1971, arguably the greatest film ever made in Australia. It starred Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty and Jack Thompson in his first screen role. Lost for many years, the restored film was re-released to acclaim in 2009.


Listen to Raffaele Caputo interview Ted Kotcheff for Senses of Cinema here.
David Wenham talks about Channel 10’s miniseries version


Watch clips from the 1971 film production of Wake In Fright on AustralianScreen.
2ser Final Draft Book Club
Watch the trailer for the 2017 TV version

About the Authors
Kenneth Cook

Kenneth Cook was born in Sydney. Wake in Fright, which drew on his time as a journalist in Broken Hill, was first published in 1961 when Cook was thirty-two. It was published in England and America, translated into several languages, and a prescribed text in schools. Cook wrote twenty-one books in a variety of genres, and was well known in film...

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Peter Temple

Peter Temple is widely regarded as one of Australia’s finest writers, and his novels have been published in twenty countries. During his lifetime he worked extensively as a journalist and editor, before teaching editing and media studies at a number of universities. His novels, among them the Jack Irish series, Truth, The Broken Shore and An...

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Text publication date:
28 August 2017
First published:
AU Price:
NZ Price:
gambling, alcoholism, isolation
Reading age:
15 +
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Praise for Kenneth Cook and Peter Temple
andWake In Fright

Wake in Fright deserves its status as a modern classic. Cook’s prose is masterful and the story is gripping from the first page to the last.’

‘A classic novel which became a classic film. The Outback without the sentimental bulldust. Australia without the sugar coating.’

Wake in Fright is a classic of the ugly side of Menzies’ Australia, its brutality, its drunkenness, its anxiety to crush all sensibility. All of this is harrowingly reacorded —the destruction of a young soul fresh to Australia—in Kenneth Cook’s remarkable novel.’

‘A true dark classic of Australian literature.’

‘A chilling outback horror and an Australian classic.’

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