This week, until 14 July, Australia is observing NAIDOC Week. This event is a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ history, culture, and achievements that is held every year in early July.
The theme for 2019 is “Voice. Treaty. Truth.” and it is all about celebrating the Indigenous voice of Australia, a voice that is over 65,000 years old. To celebrate the theme of NAIDOC Week, I’ve compiled a list of 8 recently released books by Indigenous authors. Some of them challenge us to reconsider our troubled colonial history while some of them are joyous, revelling in the beauty and power of storytelling. Each of them is an utterly incredible read and should be read not only during NAIDOC Week, but beyond.
Scroll down to check out the books or click here to find out more about NAIDOC Week and get involved!
by Tara June Winch
This book, the latest from award-winning Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch, is a simply stunning read and one that I have a feeling you’ll be hearing a lot about over the next year. The Yield tells the story of a young woman named August Gondiwindi who returns to her family home by the Murrumby River on Massacre Plains after her grandfather Albert’s death. August fled Massacre Plains years ago for England and her return dredges up many painful memories from her childhood, especially when she discovers that Albert had begun to write a Wiradjuri dictionary before his death. This book is a celebration of the Wiradjuri language but also a vital reclamation of it for a culture that has been violently dispossessed, and should be read far and wide.
The White Girl
by Tony Birch
The White Girl is the latest novel from Indigenous author, academic, and activist Tony Birch. It’s a compelling work of historical fiction that takes the reader back to a time when the forced removal of indigenous children from their families was still commonplace under the Aboriginal Protection Act (1869). The story follows Odette Brown, an Indigenous woman living on the outskirts of a rural Australian town in 1963, and her light-skinned granddaughter Sissy, whose safety is threatened when a cruel new policeman comes to town. Filled with strong, memorable characters and boldly empathetic writing, this book is a must-read for NAIDOC Week.
Too Much Lip
by Melissa Lucashenko
Melissa Lucashenko is a Goorie author of the Bundjalung people from northern coastal New South Wales, who made her name with books like Steam Pigs, Hard Yards, and Mullumbimby. Her latest novel is Too Much Lip, and it’s a darkly comic story about redemption and forgiveness that was recently shortlisted for the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Its heroine, Kerry Salter, is a woman whose middle name seems to be trouble – she spends most of her time getting out of the trouble that her big mouth often lands her in. When she hears that her Pop is dying, Kerry heads home on a stolen motorbike and discovers just how strong the pull of one’s home country can be.
Buy a copy of Too Much Lip here.
The Old Lie
by Claire G. Coleman
Claire G. Coleman is a writer from Western Australia who identifies with the Noongar people. She astonished readers across Australia with her black&write! fellowship-winning novel Terra Nullius, a thrilling work of speculative fiction that imagined a future Australia under the threat of colonisation once again. Now she returns with a novel that promises to be just as fierce and compelling as her debut. The Old Lie is the story of two people whose lives are caught up in a war and the glorious lies that underpin it. This book will be out before the end of August and given that Terra Nullius saw Claire G. Coleman nominated for a slew of literary awards, don’t be surprised if you see The Old Lie making similar waves.
Pre-order The Old Lie here.
by Bruce Pascoe
Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu calls for a radical reevaluation of our understanding of Aboriginal agriculture, exposing the Indigenous hunter-gatherer label as a fiction. The original edition, Dark Emu, has been a bestseller for over a year now, and the recently released kids’ edition Young Dark Emu is sure to follow, with teachers across Australia snapping it up as a vital classroom resource. If you haven’t read this seminal work of archaeology and history yet, NAIDOC Week is the perfect time!
by Stan Grant
Stan Grant, a Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi journalist and the acclaimed author of Talking to My Country, is a man who needs no introduction. His latest book, Australia Day, is a passionate examination of what it means to be Australian in 2019, and it doesn’t shy away from asking some very difficult questions. Who are we? What is our country? How do we move forward from here? Stan talks about the Australia Day debate, reconciliation and what that might look like in modern-Day Australia, and how it all intersects with ideas around Aboriginal identity. This is a truly essential read for every Australian.
Catching Teller Crow
by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
This haunting young adult book was written by the incredible brother-sister duo Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Aboriginal writers who come from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Catching Teller Crow is a book that’s part thriller and part ghost story, and is told in two different voices. It tells the story of a young dead woman, Beth Teller, who is trying to communicate with her grieving father to get him to unravel the mystery lurking beneath the surface of their small town. This book was shortlisted for the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Award for Writing for Young Adults and is sure to become a classic of Australian young adult literature.
by Lydia Williams
Lydia Williams is an Indigenous soccer player from Western Australia. Lydia spent her childhood travelling around to meet many different Aboriginal communities, which is where she first learnt about the joy to be found in sport. You might know her better as the legendary goalkeeper for the Matildas, but she’s also making a name for herself as a children’s author. Lydia has written an adorable and inspiring picture book called Saved!!! about a little girl who learns to be the very best that she can be while playing sport with her native animal friends. It’s beautifully illustrated by Lucinda Gifford and is a must have for any Aussie kid.
Are you celebrating NAIDOC Week by reading a book by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander author? Tell us in the comments!
About the Contributor
Olivia Fricot is the Editor of the Booktopian Blog. After finishing a soul-crushing law degree, she decided that life was much better with one's nose in a book and quickly defected to the world of Austen and Woolf. You can usually find her reading (obviously), baking, writing questionable tweets, and completing a Master's degree in English literature. Just don't ask about her thesis. Olivia is on Twitter and Instagram @livfricot - follow at your own risk.
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