Top ten summer reads from Indigenous Australian authors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Alexis Wright
Alexis Wright is one of Australia’s finest Aboriginal writers. Carpentaria is her second novel, a soaring epic set in the Gulf country of north-western Queensland, from where her people come. Carpentaria’s portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance centres on the powerful Phantom family, whose members are the leaders of the Pricklebush people, and their battles with old Joseph Midnight’s tearaway Eastend mob on the one hand, and the white officials of Uptown and the neighbouring Gurfurrit mine on the other.
by Alexis Wright
A new book by celebrated Aboriginal author Alexis Wright, author of Carpentaria and The Swan Book.
A collective memoir of one of Aboriginal Australia’s most charismatic leaders and an epic portrait of a period in the life of a country, reminiscent in its scale and intimacy of the work of Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Svetlana Alexievich.
Miles Franklin Award-winning novelist Alexis Wright returns to non-fiction in her new book, Tracker, a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker, and entrepreneur who died in Darwin in 2015.
Taken from his family as a child and brought up in a mission on Croker Island, Tracker Tilmouth returned home to transform the world of Aboriginal politics. He worked tirelessly for Aboriginal self-determination, creating opportunities for land use and economic development in his many roles, including Director of the Central Land Council. He was a visionary and a projector of ideas, renowned for his irreverent humour and his anecdotes.
His memoir has been composed by Wright from interviews with Tilmouth himself, as well as with his family, friends, and colleagues, weaving his and their stories together into a book that is as much a tribute to the role played by storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life as it is to the legacy of a remarkable man.
Alexis Wright featured in The Guardian: "Tracker is a monument of his thinking about many of the important stories of our times and will be published by Giramondo in November 2017".