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Wake In Fright

Wake In Fright: Text Classics

Kenneth Cook

Introduction by Peter Temple

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

This edition also includes an Afterword by film critic, David Stratton.

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.

Watch clips from the 1971 film production of Wake In Fright on AustralianScreen.

Kenneth Cook
About the Author

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 32. It was published in England and America, translated into several languages, and was a prescribed text in schools. Cook wrote twenty-two books in a variety of genres, and was well known in film...

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Text publication date:
26 April 2012
First published:
AU Price:
gambling, alcoholism, isolation
Reading age:
15 +
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Praise for Kenneth Cook
andWake In Fright

‘It might be fifty years since the novel appeared yet it retains its freshness, its narrative still compels, and its bleak vision still disquiets.…Cook can make us feel the heat, see the endless horizon, hear the sad singing on a little train as it traverses the monotonous plain.’

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 kind of outback Lord of the Flies …Written entirely from Grant’s point of view, the prose is at first straightforward, the landscape and its people evoked simply and vividly. But later, as Grant descends into his own personal hell and finally to the depths of despair, the writing takes on the quality of a delirious dream. The concluding narrative twists will rock both Grant (and the reader) back on their heels.’

Other editions ofWake In Fright
  • Wake In Fright
    ISBN: 9781921921780
    26 April 2012
    Buy ebook
Other Titles byKenneth Cook