Aussies Rule Prompt 13 – An Aussie Author of Colour who is not Aboriginal

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Hi folks,

Time for another Aussies Rule post!

One of the things that annoys me about Anglo Australians is that a large number of them seem to have this tacitly ingrained understanding that only white people are born in this country. If you are a person of colour (or have a non-Anglo name) you must have been born overseas. (Unless you are Aboriginal of course, in which case cue a whole different swathe of white misunderstandings and prejudices.) On reflection, I should probably have made this prompt about non Anglo authors rather than authors of colour. Hind sight is awesome!

If you google search “Australian authors” your result will give you a line of mostly white faces, with some Aboriginal representation (well known award winners) and the odd person such as Michelle de Krester who took out the Miles Franklin this year. Here are some more wonderful authors to add to your lists:

  • Alice Pung
  • Gabrielle Wang
  • Benjamin Law
  • Michelle Law
  • Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • Omar Sakr
  • Randa Abdel- Fattah
  • Omar Musa
  • Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Christos Tsiolkas and Peter Polites should also be on this list if I’m looking at it from a non-Anglo point of view.

Benjamin Law and Maxine Beneba Clark are particular favourites of mine (and are worth a follow on twitter) and I was pretty happy when I saw this post from Benjamin Law on twitter a couple of weeks ago.

I wish them every success!

Who have I missed? Let me know your favourite Aussie author of colour or non-Anglo author who isn’t on this list.

While I was researching this list I found this really interesting article about diversity in Australian publishing. (Spoiler alert – it’s terrible). I was talking to a member of my team at work about resistance reading, and she was a little shocked that something as passive as reading could be thought of as an act of resistance. I would again encourage you to your local book stores and libraries and ask for diverse books if they do not stock them. We need diverse stories and diverse representation

Read your Resistance, people!

Cheers,

[Note: I’ve posted previously about Aussies of colour who have come here as immigrants or refugees – I just want to note that I don’t think these people are any less Aussie than those of us who are born here.]

Aussies Rules Prompt 24 – A book shortlisted for the Ned Kelly’s, Stellas or Miles Franklin

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Hi folks,

I thought I’d drop you another quick list of awesome Aussie titles.

Prompt 24 refers to some of the literary prizes available in this wide brown land. Both the Stella Prize and the Miles Franklin award are named for Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, Aussie author and journalist best known for her novel My Brilliant Career. While the Miles Franklin award is solely for literature, the Stella Prize is for women writing in any genre.

The Ned Kelly Award is for both true crime and crime fiction.

The long and short lists for these three prizes are pretty easy to find, so I’m going to give you the short lists from 2018. I’m sure you will find something of substance there!

Ned Kelly Award Shortlist 2018:

Best Crime Novel:

  • Marlborough Man by Alan Carter
  • Under Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher
  • Redemption Point by Candice Fox
  • Crossing the Lines by Sulari Gentill
  • The Lone Child by Anna George
  • The Student by Iain Ryan

Best First Crime Novel:

  • Wimmera by Mark Brandi
  • The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
  • The Girl in Keller’s Way by Megan Goldin
  • See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Best True Crime:

  • The Contractor by Mark Abernathy
  • Unmaking a Murder: The Mysterious Death of Anna Jane Cheney by Graham Archer
  • The Suitcase Baby by Tanya Bretherton
  • The Fatalist by Campbell McConachie
  • Whiteley on Trial by Gabrielle Coslovich

Stella Prize Shortlist 2018

  • Tracker by Alexis Wright
  • Terra Nullius by Claire Coleman
  • The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar
  • The Life to Come by Michelle de Krester
  • An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen
  • The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe

The Miles Franklin Shortlist 2018

  • No More Boats by Felicity Cartagena
  • The Life to Come by Michelle de Krester
  • The Last Garden by Eve Hornung
  • Storyland by Catherine McKinnon
  • Border Districts by Gerald Murnane
  • Taboo by Kim Scott

Enjoy!

Aussies Rule Prompt 22 – Winners of the David Unaipon Award

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should note that this post may contain the names and images of deceased persons.

Hi folks,

Welcome to another instalment of the Aussies Rule Challenge. This week I thought I would talk about winners of the David Unaipon award.

David Unaipon (he’s on our $50 note) was from the Ngarrindjeri people, and was and inventor and author. He was commissioned by the University of Adelaide to capture a book of Aboriginal stories, and he was the first Aboriginal writer to be published in English.

The David Unaipon Award is part of the Queensland Literary Awards, and is for the best writing of the year by an unpublished Aboriginal writer.

Here are some recent winners for you to check out:

Enjoy!

Aussies Rule Challenge 11 – A book that features Aboriginal Spirituality

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Hi folks, it’s been a while since I’ve posted specifically about the Aussies Rule Challenge (life has been doing a thing) but we’re back! How is it September already? How is your challenge going?

I thought I would talk about prompt 11 today, which is a book that features Aboriginal spirituality (by an Aboriginal author).

The more I explore Aboriginal writing the less I realise I know (true for all things for me, but definitely in this area). Most of the reading I have done of Aboriginal writing up until recently seems to have been of memoir styled stories. A number of fiction writers that I have read more recently beautifully weave their spirituality through their works, and this are the ones I’m going to be suggesting today. This is probably the smallest number of authors and books that I have suggested for a prompt, but I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them.

Alexis Wright

Kim Scott

Melissa Lucashenko

What other books would you add to this list?

Cheers,

Australian Black History Month TBR

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should note that this post may contain the names and images of deceased persons.

Welcome to July, which is Black History Month here in Australia. I have a bunch of books on my TBR this month that I’m really excited to get to. I’m looking forward to the #24in48 Readathon on the weekend of July 21 – 22 to help me get through this stack. (Don’t forget to sign up for the Readathon! There are prizes and everything!)

Before I get to the books there are a couple of things I would suggest you do if you’re not familiar with the Australian Black History Month. This year is the 10th anniversary and the focus is on amazing Aboriginal women.

  • Check out the Blak History Month official site which has resources and information.
  • Check out your local council website to find out what is going on locally and go get involved! If you’re in Brisbane, you can find more information here.
  • Follow @IndigenousX on Twitter. Founded by Luke Pearson, the IndigenousX twitter handle is run by a different and amazing member of the Aboriginal community each week. This week Ngarra Murray has the wheel, and is posting about remarkable Aboriginal women.
  • Please consider signing this petition – VicRoads is due to desecrate the site of the Djapwurrung Birthing Trees and cut them down. If you are close by, please also consider adding your voice to the protests.

Okay, let’s get down to business. Here is my main stack.

The Kadaitcha Sung was gifted to me by a friend in the US as it’s basically impossible to find here. I’ve seen the words “confronting” and “aggressive” used in reviews. One of the things the white majority seems to expect from Aboriginal people is a lack of aggression and anger when talking about the atrocities of the past, which seems completely unreasonable.

Up From the Mission is a collection of essays from Noel Pearson, lawyer and activist.

Taboo by Kim Scott has been on my TBR since it came out. It is currently shortlisted for the Miles Franklin.

Tracker by Alexis Wright won this year’s Stella Prize. It’s chunky and I expect this is where my readathon hours will go.

I’m also hoping to devour as much of this stack as I can.

I also have Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book on audio for my commute.

This is a great opportunity to get stuck into your Aussies Rule Challenge reading goals. We’re halfway through the year – how are you doing?

Do you have reading goals for Black History Month? Let me know!

Cheers,

Aussies Rule Prompt 19 – An Aussie Debut

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Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I posted a pure Aussies Rule topic, so today I thought I would talk about some great Aussie debut novels from recent years. There’s a mix of genres so you should be able to find something that interests you!

The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley – a fictional retelling of the life of Elizabeth Gould, wife of John Gould, who illustrated John’s works about Australian birds. The hardback edition is gorgeous.

Black British by Hebe de Souza – based on the author’s childhood, a look at what happened to anglicised Indian families once British colonialism ended.

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox – disgraced former cop teams up with a convicted murderer to investigate the disappearance of a local author.

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic – profoundly deaf investigator Caleb Zelic is determined to find the answer to his friend’s murder.

The Dry by Jane Harper – Aaron Faulk returns to his home town to investigate his friend’s murder.

Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks – set in the distant future Australia is now a desert wasteland roamed by nomadic traders and war machines, with helpings of big lizards and killer sandstorms.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – a fictional retelling of the last days of the life of Agnes, the last woman executed in Iceland.

Terra Nullius by Claire Coleman – Australia has been colonised and the Natives are running from the Colonists and trying to save their people and their culture.

The Strays by Emily Bitto – Lily meets Eva at school and is sucked into her family – her father is an avante-garde painter and her family is living very much outside the conservative 1930s world.

Down the Hume by Peter Polites – I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s been on my pile since it first came out; Goodreads describes it as a confronting and powerful story of addiction, secrets and misplaced love.

Heat and Light by Ellen van Neerven – A book in three parts Van Neerven’s traditional story-telling incorporates myth and mysticism, the feeling of belonging and what it is to be human.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada – Gene hacking and a plague that makes people explode, what more could you want?

Deadly Kerfuffle by Tony Martin – Martin was a favourite of mine back in his radio, comedy and film days. I haven’t read this one yet but I’m sure it will be worth a look.

Wasted by Elspeth Muir – part memoir part journalism, Muir reflects on her brother’s suicide from the Story Bridge in Brisbane while completely drunk, and the drinking culture in Australia that helped him get there.

What other great Aussie debuts have you come across? What will you be reading for this part of the challenge?

Cheers!

A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work

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I’ve always considered myself a Helen Garner fan, even though I haven’t read much of her work.

I remember my introduction to Garner when I read Monkey Grip at university. It was both unashamedly Australian and of the female experience in a way I hadn’t encountered in literature up to that point. Not only did she talk unabashedly about periods but she also captured every day Australians in the way they spoke and lived, the city they lived in and the air they breathed. This may not seem like a big deal, but it certainly was in the early 90s when the cultural cringe was still a thing.

The next piece of Garner’s that I read was The First Stone which was a problematic examination of a sexual harassment case in a Melbourne University. I had some sympathy for where Garner was coming from at the time (there are some things that can be dealt with without getting barristers involved) but I think I would have a different view if I were to reread the book now. Again, this was the 90s and the landscape of what was ‘acceptable’ was rapidly changing. At school I had been told that girls couldn’t succeed in maths, had been reprimanded ‘in jest’ for being at the top of the computing class (the boys should be doing much better than you) and been warned by my father against selecting the title of “Ms” as this would flag me as being “trouble” and ruin my job prospects. I think the piece that Garner and I both missed at the time is that just because that was the way it was, didn’t mean that it was the right way for things to be or that it couldn’t change for the better.

This year I picked up House of Grief where Garner follows the epic legal story of a man who drove his three sons into a lake and was the only survivor. I remembered the case as I had been a newly single mother at the time, and to think that a father could do something like that to his children absolutely horrified me. Garner digs into the case, and interviews a some of the boys’ relatives as well as sitting through the trials, sentencing and following appeals. It is a powerful, heartbreaking story.

I was pretty keen to read Bernadette Brennan’s book about Garner and her work when I first saw it, and it’s nomination for the Stella’s certainly didn’t hurt. I really enjoyed Brennan’s examination of Garner, and I learned a number of things that I hadn’t previously realised and found surprising.

Garner wasn’t great at university and wasn’t familiar with feminist writings and works. Garner’s work is so inherently feminist that I find this astounding. Feminism is something that I have worked hard at over the years – reading everything from Wollstonecraft to Dworkin to Cixous and Irigaray. I had always thought of Garner as an academic and intellectual. It hadn’t occurred to me that you could be one without the other.

Brennan’s details of Garner’s process were also fascinating. She talks of Garner’s journals that she kept through each writing project, recording her thoughts and dreams. Garner has used Jungian analysis for many years to help her with her writing process, and examining her dreams has assisted with the direction and development of her writing.

If anything, Brennan shows that Garner is constantly working, and when she isn’t actively writing a new piece, she is journalling about the work she is doing, which assists her in working things out and shaping the final piece. I feel that I have learned a lot not just about Garner, but about the act and process of writing from Brennan’s book.

Brennan talks through all of Garner’s works, and how they ricocheted out of her life’s experiences. I’m particularly looking forward to reading The Spare Room, in which protagonist Helen welcomes a friend into her home as she tries a last ditch effort and alternative technique to beat cancer. As you can probably guess from Garner’s use of her own name, this story is a direct reflection on part of her life and is an exploration of her anger towards her real life friend who was completely in denial of her rapidly approaching demise.

Garner has been a part for Australia’s literary landscape for 40 years now and is showing no signs of slowing down. Brennan’s book is a timely celebration of the woman and her work, and is a must read for any Garner fan.

Cheers,