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We Come With This Place : Shortlisted for the 2023 Stella Prize | Winner of the 2023 ALS Gold Medal - Debra Dank
Best of 2022

We Come With This Place

Shortlisted for the 2023 Stella Prize | Winner of the 2023 ALS Gold Medal

By: Debra Dank

Paperback | 5 July 2022

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A deeply personal, profound tribute to family and the Gudanji Country to which Debra Dank belongs.

We Come with This Place is a remarkable book, as rich, varied and surprising as the vast landscape in which it is set. Debra Dank has created an extraordinary mosaic of vivid episodes that move about in time and place to tell an unforgettable story of country and people.

There is great pain in these pages, and anger at injustice, but also great love, in marriage and in family, and for the land. Dank faces head on the ingrained racism, born of brutal practice and harsh legislation, that lies always under the skin of Australia, the racism that calls a little Aboriginal girl names and beats and rapes and disenfranchises the generations before hers. She describes sudden terrible violence, between races and sometimes at home. But overwhelmingly this is a book about strong, beloved parents and grandparents, guiding and teaching their children and grandchildren what country means, about joyful gatherings and the pleasures of eating food provided by the place that nourishes them, both spiritually and physically.

Dank calibrates human emotions with honesty and insight, and there is plenty of dry, down-to-earth humour. You can feel and smell and see the puffs of dust under moving feet, the ever-present burning heat, the bright exuberance of a night-time campfire, the emerald flash of a flock of budgerigars, the journeying wind, the harshness of a station shanty, the welcome scent of fresh water.

We Come with This Place is deeply personal, a profound tribute to family and the Gudanji Country to which Debra Dank belongs, but it is much more than that. Here is Australia as it has been for countless generations, land and people in effortless balance, and Australia as it became, but also Australia as it could and should be.

About the Author

Debra Dank is a Gudanji/Wakaja woman, married to Rick, with three adult children and two grandchildren. An educator, she has worked in teaching and learning for many years - a gift given through the hard work of her parents. She continues to experience the privilege of living with country and with family. Debra completed her PhD in Narrative Theory and Semiotics at Deakin University in 2021.
Industry Reviews
'Part memoir, part bush guide and customs manual, this is a book to lean into and take time with. Foremost, this is a story to learn from.' 'A jewel to rival Australia's great desert memoirs. Beauty and pain intertwine as Dank deftly weaves the story of her family, ancestors and country.'
'We Come With This Place is a jewel of a book, one Australians in particular ought to read and refer to.'
- Tara June Winch, Guardian

'The best book I read in 2022 was We Come with This Place (Bonnier Echo) by Debra Dank. This is a heart-stopping voyage into bush Aboriginal life, philosophy and history. Dank's grandmother was a Law Boss for her Gudanji Country; her father literally ran for his life from frontier violence. Her memoir of growing up on remote Queensland cattle stations, drinking from sacred hidden rock-wells, educated by correspondence school and living in a caravan it was illegal for her Aboriginal parents to own, will surprise, delight and astound you.' - Melissa Lucashenko, The Sydney Morning Herald

'As Australia contemplates a Voice to Parliament, this book reminds us to listen. Listen when the land tells her story. Hear the voices of the traditional owners. Listen first and then you will know.' - Grattan Institute  

'To inhabit this vivid place is to be invited into a new understanding of country, culture, family and time. It stuck with me.' - Steph Harmon, The Guardian 

'This book is deserving of the accolades. It's an unconventional book, written out of an Aboriginal cultural base and it is truly groundbreaking writing... Her writing is a profound expression of culture and importantly a new way to access cultural knowledge.' - Victoria Grieves Williams, The Australian

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