That space between the ship and the shore; that space where my ancestors black and white met; that space we still can’t quite fill. We can love in that space; we can talk and we can dance and we can laugh; and maybe that space is big enough to hold a nation.
At one moment Grant can be raging justifiably against the evils of the Australian genocide of indigenous people, and in the next he is meditating on Enlightenment philosophy and how liberalism can deliver peace and reconciliation. At another moment he expands upon the idea of how white Australians have othered the interior of the country, and yet at the same time talks about how he too feels a spooky sense of dread when watching Picnic at Hanging Rock.
When Grant spins out the stories of his family history he can on the one hand speak forcefully and compellingly about the wrongs done to his ancestors (both recent and ancient), while expressing fierce Irish rebel pride for the family who arrived as convicts two hundred years ago.
Despite these contradictions, Stan Grant achieves a sort of synthesis throughout Australia Day, built from opposing ideas. He weaves a compelling story of reconciliation achieved through tension and change, but also through the power of learning to forget.
This is wise, compassionate, and generous truth-telling from Stan, and this book is essential reading for all Australians looking for the right questions to ask in the search for a middle ground.
Australia Day is out now.
As uncomfortable as it is, we need to reckon with our history. On January 26, no Australian can really look away. There are the hard questions we ask of ourselves on Australia Day.
Since publishing his critically acclaimed, Walkley Award-winning, bestselling memoir Talking to My Country in early 2016, Stan Grant has been crossing the country, talking to huge crowds everywhere about how racism is at the heart of our history and the Australian dream. But Stan knows this is not where the story ends...