First Nations Fiction To Add To Your TBR

First Nations Fiction To Add To Your TBR

Australia has a very complicated, layered history. One that has (rightfully) been turned inside out and very closely examined, in more recent years. Because to be born Australian, to live here, to move here, is no longer enough. We have to familiarise ourselves with the experiences of First Nations people in order to move forward as a community and as a country.

Much of this relies on self-education. Turning to film and art and books as a means of exploring Indigenous languages, family, traditions, and culture. It’s time to make space on your to-be-read list (we’ll do the same) for these rich and award-winning novels by First Nations authors. 

Fiction

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko

Wise-cracking Kerry Salter is part of an Aboriginal family living on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. She has spent a lifetime avoiding two things - her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she's an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley. Gritty and darkly hilarious, Too Much Lip offers redemption and forgiveness where neither seemed possible.

Shop now: Available at Dymocks, $24.99

The Yield by Tara June Winch 

August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for 10 years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land – a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river.

Shop now: Available at Dymocks, $22.99

The White Girl by Tony Birch

For 13 years, Odette has quietly raised her granddaughter without drawing notice from welfare authorities who remove fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. But the arrival of a new policeman with cruel eyes and a rigid by-the-book attitude throws the Brown women's lives off-kilter. It will take all of Odette's courage and cunning to save Sissy from the authorities, and maybe even lead her to find her daughter. The White Girl is a reminder that hope and love have no limits. 

Shop now: Available at Dymocks, $24.99

Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams) by Anita Heiss

The powerful Murrumbidgee River surges through town leaving death and destruction in its wake. It is a stark reminder that while the river can give life, it can just as easily take it away.

Wagadhaany is one of the lucky ones. She survives. But is her life now better than the fate she escaped? Forced to move away from her miyagan, she walks through each day with no trace of dance in her step, her broken heart forever calling her back home to Gundagai. 

Shop now: Available at Amazon, $17.70

After Story by Larissa Behrendt 

When Indigenous lawyer Jasmine decides to take her mother Della on a tour of England's most revered literary sites, Jasmine hopes it will bring them closer together and help them reconcile the past. As Jasmine immerses herself in the world of her literary idols – including Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolf – Della is inspired to rediscover the wisdom of her own culture and storytelling. But sometimes the stories that are not told can become too great to bear.

Shop now: Available at Dymocks, $24.99

Non-Fiction

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. 

Shop now: Available at Big W, $15.00

Everything You Need to Know About the Uluru Statement by Megan Davis and George Williams

On 26 May 2017, after a historic process of consultation, the Uluru Statement from the Heart was read out. This clear and urgent call for reform to the community from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples asked for the establishment of a First Nations Voice to Parliament protected in the constitution and a process of agreement-making and truth-telling. Voice. Treaty. Truth. What was the journey to this point? What do Australians need to know about the Uluru Statement from the Heart? And how can these reforms be achieved?

Shop now: Available at QBD Books, $22.39

Fire Country: How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia by Victor Steffensen

A powerful account from Indigenous land management expert, Victor Steffensen, on how the revival of cultural burning practices, and improved 'reading' of country, could help to restore our land. Developed over many generations, this knowledge shows clearly that Australia actually needs fire. Moreover, fire is an important part of a holistic approach to the environment, and when burning is done in a carefully considered manner, this ensures proper land care and healing.

Shop now: Available at Amazon, $26.39

Poetry

She Is Earth by Ali Cobby Eckermann 

A luminous new verse novel from celebrated poet Ali Cobby Eckermann. It charts a journey through grief and celebrates the healing power of Country. We follow Eckermann’s soft footfalls in the open (but far from empty) spaces between earth and sky; from sandstone to wetlands, from plains to mountain ranges.

Shop now: Available at Magabala Books, $27.99

Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen

An interrogation of the complexities of colonial and personal history with an alternately playful, tender, and mournful intertextual voice, deftly navigating the responsibilities that gather from sovereign country, the spectres of memory, and the debris of settler-coloniality. 

Shop now: Available at Dymocks, $24.99