Top ten summer reads from Indigenous Australian authors

January 1, 2018

Whether you're planning on taking a beach break this summer or just want to unwind with a good read on the verandah, we've got the books that will keep you reading all season long. So kick back, put your feet up and get lost in worlds of both fiction and non-fiction by Australian Indigenous Authors.

 

Number 10

 

Traditional Healers of Central Australia: Ngangkari

 

by NPY Women's Council Aboriginal Corporation

 

Traditional Healers of the Central Desert contains unique stories and imagery and primary source material: the ngangkari speak directly to the reader. Ngangkari are senior Aboriginal people authorised to speak publicly about Anangu (Western Desert language speaking Aboriginal people) culture and practices. It is accurate, authorised information about their work, in their own words.

 

The practice of traditional healing is still very much a part of contemporary Aboriginal society. The ngangkari currently employed at NPY Women’s Council deliver treatments to people across a tri-state region of about 350,000 sq km, in more than 25 communities in SA, WA, and NT.

 

Acknowledged, respected, and accepted, these ngangkari work collaboratively with hospitals and health professionals even beyond this region, working hand-in-hand with Western medical practitioners.

 

You can purchase this book through our friends at Booktopia

 

Number 9

 

You Call it Desert, We Used to Live There

by Pat Lowe, Jimmy Pike

 

 

 

The first draft of this book was written under a tree on the slope of a sandhill where, for several years, Englishwoman Pat Lowe shared a desert camp with her lifetime partner, Walmajarri man Jimmy Pike. While spending time in the red heart of country that had been the home to the Walmajarri people for thousands of years, they recorded Pike’s stories through his painting and Lowe’s writing. 

 

You call it desert — we used to live there is a new edition of Jilji—Life in the Great Sandy Desert. With Jimmy Pike as her teacher, Pat Lowe explored the day-to-day lives of the desert dwellers. Through her unique understanding of their use of the land, its features, and materials, Lowe writes about the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the desert people.

 

You can purchase this book through our friends at Booktopia

 

 

 

Number 8

 

Two Sisters: A True Story

by Ngarta Jinny Bent, Jukuna Mona Chuguna, Pat Lowe, Eirlys Richards

 

 

Ngarta and Jukuna lived in the Great Sandy Desert. They traversed country according to the seasons, just as the Walmajarri people had done for thousands of years. But it was a time of change. Desert people who had lived with little knowledge of European settlement were now moving onto cattle stations. Those left behind were vulnerable and faced unimaginable challenges.

 

In 1961, when Jukuna leaves with her new husband, young Ngarta remains with a group of women and children. Tragedy strikes and Ngarta is forced to travel alone. Her survival depends on cunning and courage as she is pursued by two murderers in a vast unforgiving landscape.

 

Jukuna’s rich account may be the first autobiography written in an Aboriginal language. Presented in English  and Walmajarri, her determination to see her language written has made her one of our most valued authors.

 

You can purchase this book through our friends at Booktopia

 

Number 7

 

Lemons in the Chicken Wire

by Alison Whittaker

 

 

 

Winner 2015 black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship – a partnership between the State Library of Queensland’s black&write! Indigenous Writing and Editing Project and Magabala Books

 

From a remarkable new voice in Indigenous writing comes this highly original collection of poems bristling with stunning imagery and gritty textures. At times sensual, always potent, Lemons in the Chicken Wire delivers a collage of work that reflects rural identity through a rich medley of techniques and forms.

 

It is an audacious, lyrical and linguistically lemon flavoured poetry debut that possesses a rare edginess and seeks to challenge our imagination beyond the ordinary. Alison Whittaker demonstrates that borders, whether physical or imagined, are no match for our capacity for love.

 

"Lemons in the Chicken Wire is truly an astounding, proudly experimental, innovative, daring, disjunctive, playful and unique poetry debut" – Dr AJ Curruthers, Rabbit Poetry Journal

 

You can purchase this book through our friends at Booktopia

 

 

Number 6

Hey Mum What's a Half-Caste

by Lorraine McGee-Sipple

 

 

Lorraine McGee-Sippel was just a small girl when she asked her parents what a half-caste was. It was the 1950s and the first step on a journey that would span decades and lead her to search for her birth family. In the historic climate of the Rudd Government’s Apology, McGee-Sippel aligns herself with the Stolen Generations as she reveals the far-reaching effects of a government policy that saw her adoptive parents being told their daughter was of Afro-American descent.

 

This is not just a story of displacement, but an honest telling that explores the fragility of reconnection, cultural identity, and the triumphs of acceptance.

 

You can purchase this book through our friends at Booktopia

 

Number 5

 

Ruby Moonlight

by Ali Cobby Eckermann

 

 

Ruby Moonlight, a novel of the impact of colonisation in mid north South Australia around 1880.

 

The main character, Ruby, refugee of a massacre, shelters in the woods where she befriends an Irishman trapper. The poems convey how fear of discovery is overcome by the need for human contact, which, in a tense unravelling of events, is forcibly challenged by an Aboriginal lawman.

 

The natural world is richly observed and Ruby’s courtship is measured by the turning of the seasons.

 

You can purchase this book through our friends at Booktopia

 

 

Number 4

 

Dark Emu

by Bruce Pascoe

 

Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for precolonial Aboriginal Australians.

 

The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. Gerritsen and Gammage in their latest books support this premise but Pascoe takes this further and challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie. Almost all the evidence comes from the records and diaries of the Australian explorers, impeccable sources.

 

You can purchase this book through our friends at Booktopia

 

Number 3

 

The Swan Book

by Alexis Wright

 

 

The new novel by Alexis Wright, whose previous novel Carpentaria won the Miles Franklin Award and four other major prizes including the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year Award. 

 

The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute teenager called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans driven from other parts of the country, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city. 

 

The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning best-seller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the wild energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale.

 

You can purchase this book through our friends at Booktopia

 

 

Number 2