First Nations writers to read in 2020

As we continue to look ahead to the year in books, we’re excited for all the First Nations voices being published in 2020. Here is a round-up previewing just a few of the fantastic releases that have already piqued our interest.

Please note, this list is incomplete, but we do hope it reflects the wide array of titles on offer.


FICTION & NON-FICTION FOR ADULTS


  • Fire Country by Victor Steffensen – A vital memoir by Indigenous land management expert Steffenson that champions traditional First Nations knowledge of our unique landscape. (February)

  • Archer Magazine: The First Nations Issue edited by Bridget Caldwell-Bright & Maddee Clark – This special edition of Archer Magazine brings First Nations LGBTIQ writers, artists, editors, photographers and storytellers to the forefront. (February)

  • Benevolence by Julie Janson – Set in the 1800s, this historical novel is a fictionalised account of the Parramatta Native Institution. Conceived by Janson as an ‘Aboriginal answer to The Secret River’, it is a powerful account of survival both during and beyond institutionalisation. (April)

  • Top End Girl by Miranda Tapsell – With her familiar wit and warmth, Tapsell takes readers through her childhood, her rise in the performing arts, and the path she took to create the critically acclaimed film, Top End Wedding. (May)

  • Black and Blue by Veronica Gorrie – Gorrie’s debut memoir tackles the impact of racism on her life and family with a wicked sense of humour and a frank yet moving appraisal that pulls no punches. (Editor note: We had originally listed this book as June release but its publication date is actually April 2021.)

  • Untitled by Bruce Pascoe & Vicky Shukuroglou – A travel guide like no other, Pascoe and photographer Shukuroglou have been travelling for a year researching and documenting areas of interest around the country for this highly anticipated book. (August)

POETRY


  • Late Murrumbidgee Poems by John Mukky Burke – An exuberant expansive collection of poems that embraces topics such as death, desire, place and Aboriginal politics and identity. Read Miles Franklin Award-winning author Melissa Lucashenko’s introduction to the collection here. (January)

  • Homeland Calling edited by Ellen van Neerven– Written by First Nations youth from remote and regional communities, Homeland Calling is a hip-hop poetry collection, rich in rhyme and passion, that channels culture and challenges stereotypes. (May)

  • Fire Front edited by Alison Whittaker – This poetry anthology showcases some of Australia’s leading First Nations poets alongside rising stars in a powerful testament to the radical power of the form. (May)

  • Throat by Ellen van Neerven – Intimate yet far-reaching, Throat is bright star Ellen van Neerven’s explosive second poetry collection. (May)

CHILDREN’s BOOKS AND YOUNG ADULT


  • Counting Our Country by Jill Daniels – Richly illustrated with Daniels' vibrant paintings, this bilingual counting book in English and Ritharrnu is perfect for introducing First Nations language and art to readers at an early age. (Board book, February)

  • Coming Home to Country by Bronwyn Bancroft – A visual and lyrical depiction of the experience of coming home to Country that encourages readers to reflect on their connection to the land and its spirit. (Picture book, February)

  • Hello, Hello by children from the Spinifex Writing Camp – Published by the Indigenous Literary Foundation and written by students from Laverton, Menzies and Tjuntjuntjara remote community schools, Hello Hello is an atmospheric account of the discoveries and surprises lying in the shadows on a night walk. (Picture book, February)

  • Brother Moon by Maree McCarthy Yoelu & Samantha Fry – A powerful story lovingly told by a great-grandfather to his great-grandson, Brother Moon explores history, kinship and connection to Country. (Picture book, March)

  • Bubbay’s Desert Adventure by Josie Wowolla Boyle – A gentle picture book of magic and friendship about a lonely young boy embarking on a quest to make his wish come true. (Picture book, March)

  • Girls Can Fly by Sally Morgan & Ambelin Kwaymullina – Full of short poignant sayings and practical advice, Girls Can Fly is an inspirational book for young teens from an award-winning mother-and-daughter team. (Middle grade & YA, March)

  • Backyard Birds by Helen Milroy – A vibrant cacophony of birdsong practically rings out from this colourful picture book populated by the wondrous native birds living in our backyards. (Picture book, April)

  • Willy-willy Wagtail: Tales from the Bush Mob by Helen Milroy – The first book in a new junior fiction series about a group of animals that work together, Willy-willy Wagtail sees the Bush Mob put aside their differences to save the community from a terrible bush fire. (Junior grade, April)

  • What Do You Call a Baby…? by Kamsani Bin Salleh – This adorable book introduces babies and toddlers to the words we use to describe iconic Australian baby animals, including eaglets (baby eagles) and puggles (baby wombats). (Board book, May)

  • Respect by Aunty Fay Muir & Sue Lawson, illus by Lisa Kennedy – This tender story encourages children to respect others and themselves, as well as invites them to learn more about the culture of our First Nations people. (Picture book, May)

  • Our Home, Our Heartbeat by Briggs – Adapted from Briggs’s celebrated song, ‘The Children Came Back’, this book honours the oldest continuous culture on earth as it looks to the history, present and future of Australia’s First Nations people. (Picture book, May)

  • My Australian Story: Who Am I by Anita Heiss – Set in Sydney, 1937, this is the fictional diary of a young Aboriginal girl who was part of the Stolen Generation. First published in 2001, this is a new edition of the book. (Middle grade, May)

  • Finding Our Heart: A Book about the Uluru Statement for Young Australians by Thomas Mayor – Following in the examples of Bruce Pascoe’s Young Dark Emu and Marcia Langton’s youth edition of Welcome To Country, Thomas Mayor’s remarkable celebration of the Uluru Statement is also set to be adapted for young readers. (Children’s non-fiction, June)
Fire Country: How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia

Fire Country: How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia

Victor Steffensen

$29.99Buy now

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