Indigenous stories & voices in books for NAIDOC week
The theme for NAIDOC Week 2019 is ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth’ – the three key elements set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
In honour of NAIDOC Week, we’d like to spotlight some of the many books that foreground and give voice to the rich language, culture and lived experiences of First Nations Australians. The books listed below, by no means a complete list, provide a wonderful way for all Australians to actively listen to these stories.
The Yield by Tara June Winch
The Yield begins and ends with an injunction; that every person in the world should learn the word for country in the old language. In Wiradjuri, that word is Ngurambang. Tara June Winch’s second novel is profound, moving and exquisitely written; telling the story of a man who knows he will die soon and is determined to pass on his people’s language. Our reviewer called this a ‘big hearted, hopeful book’. Find the full review here.
Blak Brow featuring Paola Balla, Karen Jackson, Kim Kruger, Pauline Whyman and Bridget Caldwell
This special edition of The Lifted Brow puts blak women’s voices and stories at the forefront; filled entirely with brand new work by First Nations writers and visual artists. Blak Brow focuses on stories, ideas, opinions and art from a diverse range of women. The term ‘blak’ names the lived experience and identity of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and so this edition of The Lifted Brow provides a great opportunity to honour and hear the stories and experiences of First Nations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women writers.
Blakwork by Alison Whittaker
Alison Whittaker has created a unique and stunning blend of memoir and poetry in her new collection, Blakwork. Moving elegantly between poetry, prose and memoir, Whittaker provides the reader with a glowing opportunity to experience poetry at an emotional, intuitive level, and Blakwork is certainly a fearless examination of the present.
Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia by Anita Heiss
What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This remarkable anthology compiled by Australian author, presenter, commentator and activist Anita Heiss showcases as many diverse voices and stories as possible, each writer presenting their own truth to the answer of that question. It’s a thrill and a pleasure to read newly discovered voices alongside the more established, with contributors spanning all ages and home areas.
Am I Black Enough For You? by Anita Heiss
Anita Heiss' memoir, Am I Black Enough For You?, is deeply personal. Told in her distinctive, wry voice, (Heiss is a straight talker and a joy to read) it explores her upbringing (Heiss was born a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but was raised in Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school), as well as her involvement in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. This memoir is essential reading for young and old alike.
Finding the Heart of the Nation: The Journey of the Uluru Statement towards Voice, Treaty and Truth by Thomas Mayor (Available October)
This is a book for all Australians. Following the founding of the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017, author Thomas Mayor travelled around Australia to promote its vision of a better Australia for Indigenous Australians. He visited both big and large communities, sometimes with the Statement rolled up in a tube and tucked under his arm. In Finding the Heart of the Nation: The Journey of the Uluru Statement towards Voice, Treaty and Truth, Mayor shares his own story alongside interviews from 20 people he met along the way. This is a moving, empowering collection of voices, making clear the Uluru Statement and its significance for all Australians.
Tracker by Alexis Wright
2018 Stella Prize winner Tracker is a kind of ‘collective memoir’ of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, Leigh Bruce ‘Tracker’ Tilmouth from a fiercely intelligent writer (and former winner of the Miles Franklin award). Author Alexis Wright composed Tracker from interviews with Tilmouth undertaken before his death, as well as from friends, family and colleagues, and has subsequently woven them together in a memoir that pays tribute to the role of storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life, and to the legacy of a remarkable man. Read our review here.
My Place by Sally Morgan
In My Place, author, dramatist, and artist Sally Morgan traces the beginnings and experiences of her own life, growing up in suburban Perth in the 1960s. This is a deeply moving account of Morgan’s search for truth, into which a whole family is gradually drawn; finally freeing the tongues of the author’s mother and grandmother, allowing them to tell their own stories.