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Deadly, Unna? - Phillip Gwynne

Paperback Published: 4th May 1998
ISBN: 9780141300498
Number Of Pages: 288
For Ages: 12 - 14 years old

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'Deadly, unna?' He was always saying that. All the Nungas did, but Dumby more than any of them. Dumby Red and Blacky don't have a lot in common. Dumby's the star of the footy team, he's got a killer smile and the knack with girls, and he's a Nunga. Blacky's a gutless wonder, needs braces, never knows what to say, and he's white. But they're friends... and it could be deadly, unna? This gutsy novel, set in a small coastal town in South Australia is a rites-of-passage story about two boys confronting the depth of racism that exists all around them.

About the Author

Phillip Gwynne's first novel Deadly Unna? the literary hit of 1998, has now sold over 180,000 copies. It was made into the feature film Australian Rules for which Phillip won an AFI award. The sequel, Nukkin Ya, was published to great acclaim in 2000. He has also written The Worst Team Ever, Born to Bake, and A Chook Called Harry in the Aussie Bites series, and Jetty Rats. Phillip's latest novel, the adult detective thriller The Build Up, is being made into a 13-part TV series on SBS, and his YA novel, Swerve, will be published in 2010.

He now lives in Leura, New South Wales, with his wife and three children: aged 17, 2 and 1.

We've made the grand final.

Next Saturday we play Wangaroo for the Peninsula Junior Colts Premiership. The whole town is talking about it, it's the biggest thing to happen here since the second prize in the S.A. Tidy Towns Competition (Section B). Just shows what sort of town I live in. Hopeless.

Our coach, Mr Robertson, runs one of the two local stores. I call him 'Arks', behind his back of course, because he says 'arks' instead of asks and 'arksed' instead of asked.

'If I've arksed youse boys once I've arksed youse a thousand times, don't buggerise with the bloody ball on them flanks, kick the bugger up the bloody centre'.

Arks's son, Mark, is the captain of our team. He also says 'arks'. Mark has two sisters, both of them say 'arks'. It 's definitely in the family, this 'arks' thing. Arks's shop is the quieter of the two, it doesn't have much of a turnover, and the Pollywaffles are always stale. I buy mine there though, just on the off chance I can entice one of the Robertson family into saying 'arks'. It always gives me a thrill.

We've made the grand final and I'm the second ruck. First ruck is Carol Cockatoo. He's from the Point, an Aboriginal mission just up the coast. Carol is the best footballer in our side, probably on the peninsula. He's about the same size as a wheat silo. He also has quite a lot of facial hair – unusual in a fourteen year old. Once, during training, I asked him why he had a girl's name. He punched me. I never asked again.

The ruck's job is to follow the ball. When the first ruck gets tired, it's the second ruck's turn. Carol never got tired. Never. Even when the game was over he'd still be going – kicking the ball and chasing it, kicking and chasing. Often he'd be eating a pastie at the same time, a trail of tomato sauce dribbling behind. So I never did any rucking. I just hung around the forward line and hoped my mate Dumby Red would pass the ball to me so I could have shot for goal. If you kicked a goal you got your name in the Peninsula Gazette on Thursday.

Half of our team is Aboriginal, boys from the mission. We call them Nungas, it's what they call themselves as well. They're the Nungas and we're the Gunyas. We're the only town on the peninsula with Nungas in our team. Without them we wouldn't be in the Grand final, without them we wouldn't even have a team. They're incredibly skilful, but they infuriate Arks. He's all for directness, for going down the guts, for grabbing the ball and booting it as hard as you can. The Nungas, they just love to buggerise around on them flanks.

It's like they're playing another game, with completely different rules. The aim is not to put the ball through the big white sticks, not to score the most goals, but to keep possession, to make your opponents, and your team-mates, look slow and cumbersome. They zigzag the ball across the field, they kick it backwards, they handball it over their heads, they go on wild, bouncing runs. When the Nungas played like this, by their rules, we just stopped and watched. They never gave the ball to us, we weren't part of it, we didn't understand. Arks would be bellowing from the boundary line, his face getting redder and redder – 'Stop buggerising around and boot the bloody thing. Boot the bloody thing. For Chrissakes boot it!'

Eventually, when they finished buggerising around, when Arks face was so red you could see it glowing like a tail-light from the other side of the field, they'd pass the ball to one of us Gunyas, usually right in front of the goal, so we couldn't miss.

ISBN: 9780141300498
ISBN-10: 0141300493
Audience: Children
For Ages: 12 - 14 years old
For Grades: 7 - 10
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 4th May 1998
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.5 x 14.1  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.27
Edition Number: 1

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Phillip Gwynne

About the Author

Phillip Gwynne's first novel Deadly Unna? was the literary hit of 1998 winning Children's Book of the Year and selling over 200,000 copies.

It was made into the feature film Australian Rules for which Phillip's screenplay won an AFI award in 2002. Since then Phillip's novels have all received both high acclaim and popularity amongst readers including his young adult novel Swerve which was shortlisted for many awards amongst them the 2010 Prime Minister's Award and the Golden Inky.

Phillip's also no stranger to writing thrillers as he has written an adult detective thriller The Build Up, but The Debt is his first series for upper-primary school readers and combines both his substantial literary skills and his ability to tell a good story.

Visit Phillip Gwynne's Booktopia Author Page