First Nations writers to read in 2021

As we continue to look ahead to the year in books, we’re excited for all the First Nations voices being published in 2021. 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


  • Born into This by Adam Thomson - An engaging and thought-provoking short story collection from a debut Tasmanian Aboriginal author who addresses universal themes - identity, racism, heritage destruction - from a wholly original perspective. (February)
  • God, the Devil and Me by Alf Taylor - At once darkly humorous and achingly tragic, Alf Taylor chronicles his life growing up in the infamous New Norcia Mission, north of Perth in the fifties and sixties. (February)
  • Two Cultures, One Story by Dr Robert Isaacs, with Tanaz Byramji - This memoir shares the inside story of respected Elder, Dr Robert Francis Isaacs, and his drive to break down cultural barriers and improve the lives of his people. (March)
  • Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen - This fierce and innovative debut mixes poetry and essay to offer an eloquent witness to the entangled present, an uncompromising provocation of history, and an embattled but redemptive hope for a decolonial future. (March)
  • With the Falling of the Dusk by Stan Grant - Weaving personal experiences of reporting from the front lines of the world’s flashpoints, together with his deep understanding of politics, history and philosophy, Grant explores what is driving our current world to crisis and how it might be averted. (April)
  • Black & Blue by Veronica Gorrie - A proud Kurnai woman, Gorrie frankly and movingly explores the impacts of racism and intergenerational trauma, and the inevitable difficulties of making her way as an Aboriginal woman in the white-and-male-dominated workplace of the police force.(April)
  • The Boy from Birdum by Bill Dempsey - Champion footballer and entrepreneur Dempsey tells his life story frankly, courageously, and with the charismatic flair of a natural-born yarn spinner. (April)
  • Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now edited by Ellen van Neerven - A wide-ranging and captivating anthology that brings together established authors such as Tony Birch, Melissa Lucashenko and Tara June Winch, and rising stars such as Adam Thompson and Mykaela Saunders. (May)
  • Dark as Last Night by Tony Birch - A powerful new collection of short stories from the masterful Birch, showcasing a concern for the humanity of those who are often marginalised or overlooked. (August)
  • Debesa by Cindy Solonec - A sweeping social history of the Rodriguez family’s struggles and triumphs set against the backdrop of the beauty of the West Kimberley. (May)
  • Bila Yarrudhang-galang-dhuray by Anita Heiss - Set on timeless Wiradyuri country and based on devastating true events, this is an epic story of love, loss and belonging. (May)
  • After Story by Larissa Behrendt - When a mother and daughter take the overseas trip of a lifetime, touring historic literary sites in England, they discover that the past is never quite behind them. (July)
  • Lise, Damned Lies by Claire G. Coleman - Acclaimed author Coleman blends the personal with the political, offering readers an insight into the stark reality of the ongoing trauma of Australia’s violent colonisation. (September)
  • Black Witness: The Power of Indigenous Media by Amy McQuire - An essential collection of Aboriginal journalism. (Publication date TBC)
  • Country by Bill Gammage and Bruce Pascoe (Publication date TBC)


POETRY


  • Homecoming by Elfie Shiosaki - This seminal collection pieces together fragments of stories about four generations of Noongar women, telling First Nations truths of unending love for children—those that were present, those taken, those hidden and those that ultimately stood in the light. (April)

  • Whisper Songs by Tony Birch - In this stunning collection Birch invites the reader into a tender conversation with those he loves, addressing themes of loss (of people and place), the legacies of colonial history and violence, and the relationships between Country and memory. (June)


CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT


  • Billie and the Blue Bike by Ambelin Kwaymullina - This fun and engaging story about a young girl saving up to buy a bike introduces young children to financial literacy, and is written for Indigenous children in particular. (Picture book, February)
  • Day Break by Amy McQuire - A family make their way back to Country on January 26, sharing stories as they move through a shifting landscape. (Picture book, January)
  • The Boy From the Mish by Gary Lonesborough - Compelling, honest and beautifully written, The Boy from the Mish is about first love, identity, and the superpower of self-belief. (Young adult, February)
  • Backyard Bugs by Helen Milroy - From beautiful butterflies to kaleidoscopic Christmas beetles, Milroy returns to the backyard with a picture book designed to teach kids all about the scurrying, scuttling, scooting, buzzing, zooming splendour of insects. (Picture book, March)
  • Main Abija My Grandad by Karen Rogers - With luscious artwork and a lyrical text in Kriol and English, celebrated Ngukurr artist Rogers evokes the world of her childhood in a remote part of the Northern Territory. (Picture book, March)
  • Welcome, Child! by Sally Morgan - Sally Morgan’s beautiful and heartfelt celebration of the love we feel for a new child. (Board book, March)
  • Tell Me Why for Young Adults by Archie Roach - In his inspirational, highly acclaimed memoir - and including reflections from First Nations Elders and young people - Archie Roach tells the story of his life and his music. (Young adult, March)
  • Walking in Gagudju Country: Exploring the Monsoon Forest by Ben Tyler (co-written with Diane Lucas and illustrated by Emma Long) - Walk through one of the Top End’s magnificent monsoon forests, in Kakadu National Park, learning about the plants, animals and Kundjeyhmi culture along the way. (Picture book, June)
  • Story Doctors by Boori Monty Pryor - Legendary storyteller Pryor offers a powerful, beautiful, and deeply rich account of 80,000+ years of Australia’s true history, drawing on a lifetime of wisdom. (Children’s non-fiction, July)

Please note that some publication dates may change during the course of the year.

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Born Into This

Born Into This

Adam Thompson

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