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That Deadman Dance : Winner of the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award - Kim Scott

That Deadman Dance

Winner of the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award

By: Kim Scott

Paperback Published: 1st June 2011
ISBN: 9780330404235
Number Of Pages: 408

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Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.

The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.

But slowly – by design and by accident – things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...

About The Author

Born in 1947, Kim Scott's ancestral Noongar country is the south-east coast of Western Australia between Gairdner River and Cape Arid. His cultural Elders use the term Wirlomin to refer to their clan, and the Norman Tindale nomenclature identifies people of this area as Wudjari/Koreng. Kim's professional background is in education and the arts. He is the author of two novels, True Country and Benang, poetry and numerous pieces of short fiction.

Student Studying Australian Literature 3/5


If you're not a regular reader this text can be difficult to read. I found that I struggled in parts, but had to push on for my classes. I wouldn't recommend it if you aren't interested in Aboriginal ways of life, but it was an okay read for a uni text.

Sydney Australia




I didnt enjoy this novel. It seemed like a wonderful combination of Aboriginal dreamtime stories and mythology with the colonisation of Western Australia, but it was quick to dissapoint with 'easy' paths for the narrative, stereotypes and blase coverage of real issues. WHilst TV shows like Cleverman exist, this novel wont be any more than holiday fodder.



Must read


This excellent novel gives such good characterisation of both Noongar and colonial Australians in W.A whaling days that it lets the reader empathasise with both black and white individuals. It is educational in showing aspects of the daily lives of all characters, their food, shelter and living conditions, their aspirations and beliefs. The playful, fearless character of Bobby Wabalangina remains with the reader after the book is closed.



That Deadman Dance

3.3 3


ISBN: 9780330404235
ISBN-10: 0330404237
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 408
Published: 1st June 2011
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 20.1 x 13.0  x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.32
Edition Number: 1

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Kim Scott

About the Author

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