The On Country Reading Group meets roughly once every one to two months to discuss recent books by First Nations authors (and sometimes non-Indigenous authors) which engage with issues of sovereignty, decolonisation and Indigeneity. We read fiction and non-fiction; academic and non-academic texts. We try to be balanced in the books we read, and, every member of the group nominates a book. We try to read recently published books; but occasionally, we also dip into classics. We try to be relatively flexible in determining the books we will read; we don’t have a big agenda. How we feel about the present book shapes what we choose for the next one.
The books we have read over the past 18 months include:
- Mark Moran, Serious Whitefella Stuff, Melbourne: MUP, 2016.
- Ellen van Neerven, Heat and Light, St.Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2014.
- Kevin Gilbert, Because a White Man’ll Never Do It, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 2013. This book, originally written during the 1970s, is the work of a landmark poet and playwright, Kevin Gilbert. The book emerged at a time of strengthening political assertiveness and an increasing alliance between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
- Alexis Wright, Tracker, Artarmon: Giramondo Publishing, 2017.
- Clare Land and Gary Foley, Decolonising Solidarity, London: Zed Books, 2015. This book interrogates the manner in which white activists engage with Indigenous politics and activism. The book provides a step-by-step guide in coming to terms with one’s subjectivity and how one has benefitted from the displacement of First Nations peoples and the efforts at wiping out Indigenous history.
- Eve Vincent, Against Native Title, Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2017.
- Bruce Elder, Blood on the Wattle, French Forest: New Holland, 2003. A popular book which provides a narrative account of colonial massacres.
- Kim Scott, Taboo, Sydney: Picador, 2017. Most recent novel by prize-winning Noongar author, Kim Scott. The novel explores unresolved historical/contemporary issues regarding colonial violence, land-theft and the coming to terms with one’s heritage when access to it has been damaged.
- Claire G Coleman, Terra Nullius, Sydney: Hachette Press, 2017. A science-fiction novel which narrates early Invader-Native encounters and plays with the readers imagination.
- Michael Mansell, Treaty and Statehood: Aboriginal Self-determination. Sydney: The Federation Press, 2016.
- Anita Heiss (ed.), Growing up Aboriginal in Australia, Carlton: Black Inc Books, 2018. A volume based on submissions from a wide-range of Aboriginal contributors: only some of whom are professional authors or academics. The stories narrate the challenges of racism, the strength of culture and language and pride in asserting one’s own path through mainstream and Indigenous Australia.
- Tony Birch, Common People, St.Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2017.
- Bain Attwood, The Good Country, Melbourne: Monash University Publishing, (November) 2017.
- Melissa Lucashenko, Too Much Lip, St.Lucia: University of Queensland Press, August 2018.
- Lisa Bellear, Aboriginal Country, Crawley: UWAP, 2018.
- Eric Willmot, Pemulwuy: The Rainbow Warrior, McMahons Point: Weldons, 1987.
- Stephen Gapps, The Sydney Wars: Conflict in the Early Colony, 1788-1817, Sydney: New South, 2018.
- Tara June Winch, The Yield, Penguin, 2019.
- Cassandra Pybus, Trugannini: Journey through the Apocalypse, Allen and Unwin, 2020
- Claire Coleman, The Old Lie, Hachette.
- Giordano Nanni and Andrea James, Coranderrk: We Will Show the Country, Aboriginal Studies Press, 2013.
We meet at Wild Timor Coffee Café on Faraday Street in Carlton. No expertise or previous experience is expected. Everyone who attends participates in the discussion. Drop a line via the Contact page for further information.
I was interviewed by Sri Dean on SBS Radio’s Indonesian program about the On Country Reading Group on 28th May, 2018. This is the link.