Born Into This

Adam Thompson

Born Into This
University of Queensland Press
2 February 2021

Born Into This

Adam Thompson

Engaging, thought-provoking stories from a young Tasmanian Aboriginal author who addresses universal themes - identity, racism, heritage destruction - from a wholly original perspective.  

The stories in Born Into This throw light on a world of unique cultural practice and perspective, from Indigenous rangers trying to instil some pride in wayward urban teens on the harsh islands off the coast of Tasmania to those scraping by on the margins of white society railroaded into complex and compromised decisions.

To this mix Adam Thompson manages to bring humour, pathos and occasionally a sly twist as his characters confront racism, untimely funerals, classroom politics and, overhanging all like a discomforting, burgeoning awareness for both white and black Australia, the inexorable damage and disappearance of the remnant natural world.     


This remarkable debut crackles with wit, swagger and rage –- as entertaining and affecting as it is thought-provoking -– and assuredly introduces Aboriginal (pakana) writer Adam Thompson as a fresh new voice to follow in the Australian fiction landscape. Thompson was an inaugural recipient of the Wheeler Centre’s The Next Chapter scheme (through which he has been mentored by Cate Kennedy), and many of our country’s finest writers including Ellen van Neerven, Tara June Winch and Tony Birch are all singing his praises.

It’s clear why from the first page of Born Into This. These 16 tight and punchy stories are distinctly Tasmanian, each with a Tasmanian Aboriginal character at its centre. Every encounter in this collection is charged with tension and energy; Thompson’s dialogue sparks on the page. Yet while the stories in Born Into This are all driven by their human conflicts, each protagonist’s relationship to their environment (both urban and natural) is deeply considered and fully realised. Thompson leaves the reader with a profound sense of what we’re losing when it comes to both the damage and disappearance of our native environment and the cultural practices that rely on its survival.

Born Into This not only stands out as an engaging short-story collection from an exciting young writer, but will open readers’ minds to the diverse lived experiences of First Nations people. I hope we are all approaching the year ahead with a strengthened resolve to listen deeply and actively to First Nations Australians so that we may better advocate for justice and equality in this country. This is vital storytelling that we should all be reading, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Stella Charls is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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