Monday musings on Australian literature: Recent books by Indigenous Australians
Next week, from 3rd to 10th of July, Lisa at ANZLitlovers is running her now annual Indigenous Literature Week. While she usually holds it during or near Australia’s NAIDOC Week in order to support that program’s goal of increasing awareness and understanding of indigenous Australian culture, she does in fact accept reviews of works by any indigenous authors worldwide. In other words, you don’t have to be or read Australian to join in, so if you’d like to raise awareness of an indigenous culture near (or not so near) you, do head over to her blog (link above) and make your contribution.
Lisa has included links to lists of indigenous Australian books, including her own, to get people started, so I’m not going to repeat that. But, for my own benefit as well as to support Lisa’s week, I thought I’d suss out and share some works – across genres and forms – that have been published in the last 12 months or so. It’s a serendipitous list:
- Larissa Behrendt’s Finding Eliza: Power and colonial storytelling (UQP, 2016): historical analysis of how indigenous people – in Australia and elsewhere – have been portrayed in stories by the colonisers.
- Tony Birch’s Ghost river (UQP, 2015) (my review): novel set in working class Melbourne in 1960s; long-listed for the 2016 Miles Franklin Award.
- Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Inside my mother (Giramondo, 2015): poetry collection.
- Lizzie Marrkilyi Ellis‘ Pictures from my memory: My story as a Ngaatjatjarra woman (Aboriginal Studies Press, 2016). (Yvonne’s Stumbling through the past review): memoir by a Central Australian woman.
- Stan Grant’s Talking to my country (Lisa’s ANZlitLovers review): memoir, exploring the complicated experience of growing up black in a white dominated world.
- Ambelin Kwaymullina’s The foretelling of Georgie Spider (Walker Books, 2015): the last in her Young Adult fantasy series, the Tribe trilogy, set in a post-apocalyptic world in which Aboriginal culture and philosophy play a significant role.
- Marie Munkara’s Of ashes and rivers that flow to the sea (Vintage, 2016): memoir about her search for her origins. (I read her David Unaipon award-winning Every secret thing, and loved her voice)
- Lesley and Tammy Williams’ Not just black and white (UQP, 2015) (Lisa’s ANZLitLovers review): won the David Unaipon Award in 2014
I decided to focus just on 2015 to 2016, but in my research I included the new biennial Indigenous Writers Prize in the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, and found that the 2016 joint winners were books published in 2014, so I’m including them too:
- Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu (Magabala Books, 2014) (Lisa’s ANZLitLovers review): analyses pre-colonial indigenous Australian culture suggesting that it was more “settled” than the common “hunter-gatherer” assumption. (I’ll be reading this with my reading group later this year.)
- Ellen van Neerven’s Heat and light (UQP, 2014) (my review): collection of stories, some connected, some not, and including a longform speculative story, about living as an indigenous person in contemporary Australia.
But what am I hoping to read? First up, an older book, Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight, followed by, if I have time, a newer one, Stan Grant’s Talking to my country.
Do you make a point of reading indigenous literature? And do you have favourites?