Connection through storytelling in NRW2020
The joy gained from reading a great book cannot be underestimated – even more so if that story is shared! #NRW2020 is a great opportunity to host a virtual book club, and share in the many tales, lives and perspectives of Australia’s first storytellers.
Novels to non-fiction, poetry to prose, we have collected a range of some of the most mind-expanding and heart-capturing stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors to get you started.
This is the story of anyone who has been stolen from family, who has been searching all their life for their identity, their people, culture and Country.
WHAT? Tell Me Why is Archie Roach’s breathtaking memoir; encompassing a traumatic childhood, to salvation through music, love and reconnection with culture.
WHY READ IT? A few pages in to Tell Me Why and it becomes apparent that you’re in the presence of storytelling at its most authentic. A member of the Stolen Generations, Roach’s music had a profound impact because of the truth written into every line – and the book extends and builds on this truth. It’s not surprising that one of Australia’s greatest songwriters is one of our greatest storytellers, as well.
I was born on Ngurambang – can you hear it? – Ngu–ram–bang. If you say it right it hits the back of your mouth and you should taste blood in your words.
WHAT? Deservedly accoladed, The yield is a novel about one woman’s return to her Country, and all that she finds there.
WHY READ IT? This book challenges grand and timely issues using the deeply personal. While The Yield will be remembered for its long overdue deep-dive into the beauty of the Wiradjuri language, readers will come away affected by Winch’s skilful depiction of the universal ways in which homecomings can be painful.
WHAT? A collection of insightful, confronting, and sometimes downright hilarious stories on what it means and how it feels to grow up First Nations in Australia.
WHY READ IT? Coming of age tales are universally compelling, but you haven’t read growing up like this before. Edited by eminent writer Dr Anita Heiss, Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia has voices from footballers to awarded authors, from the published to the never written before. The result is a breathtaking kaleidoscope of identity, knowledge, and experience of being and becoming Aboriginal.
WHY READ IT? Perhaps one of the most important books published in Australia in 2019, Finding the heart of the nation is a great place to start for those who wish to learn about the Uluru Statement; but also for those with a drive to delve deeper. Personal, illuminating, and inspiring, this book is less a history than an earnest and undeniable invitation to listen.
It never failed to surprise Odette how white people were always going on about uplifting Aboriginal people, yet they would demand information about the old ways when it suited them.
WHAT? Tony Birch’s 2019 novel is a closely-drawn look at the many different and devastating ways a single Aboriginal family can be torn apart through state interference.
WHY READ IT? Set in the ’60s, Aboriginal woman Odette Brown struggles to hold on to precious life she has built with her beloved granddaughter, living under the Aboriginal Protection Act. While the depiction of this recent history will leave you reeling, it’s Odette’s singular and extraordinary love for her family that stays with you long after you put the book down. Read The White Girl for Birch’s deft ability to find tenderness and hope where you least expect it.
WHAT? Born Again Blackfella is the story of one, talented, wise and resilient actor, musician, potter, elder, and mentor, Uncle Jack Charles.
WHY READ IT? More than just the memoir, Born again Blackfella is an instructive march through recent Victorian cultural, political, and social history. The story of this indefatigable addict, homosexual, cat burglar, actor. Aboriginal is huge, heartbreaking, and hilarious. We are lucky he has lived in our times.
WHAT? Historian, Cassandra Pybus, reframes the story of Truganini – a hugely significant figure in Australian history – but no longer as helpless tragic victim as she is mostly portrayed, but rather as a strong woman of intelligence, agency, skill, and culture.
WHY READ IT? Truganini’s story takes you right through the Tasmanian apocalypse and beyond. Think you know your history of Tasmania and Victoria? This exceptional and detailed telling will add another dimension. Think you’re still trying to understand what “apocalypse” might mean in an Australian setting? Here’s one definition you’ll never forget.