More excellent news! I approached UQP (University of Queensland Press) to donate a book by an indigenous author as a giveaway for Indigenous Literature Week here at ANZ LitLovers in July, and they have kindly agreed.
UQP are great supporters of indigenous writing. They have sponsored the David Unaipon Award since its inception and they publish a great list of Indigenous Australian authors. They have offered to donate a copy of Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane, which has just been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. (I have a copy of this on my TBR and will be reviewing it soon).
Be in it to win it: Any Australian readers who signs up for Indigenous Literature Week is eligible (including those who’ve already signed). (I’m sorry, Kiwis, I have sent a begging email to a couple of Kiwi publishers, but no luck yet!) Please indicate your interest in the Comments box below and I’ll select a winner using a random generator by the end of next week i.e. Friday June 15th.
All entries from Australian residents will be eligible but it is a condition of entry that if you are the winner, you must contact me with a postal address to pass on to UQP by the deadline that will be specified in the blog post that announces the winner. (I’ll redraw if this deadline isn’t met).
Here’s the blurb for Purple Threads from the UQP press release:
Winner of the 2010 David Unaipon Award for Indigenous Writing, Jeanine Leane is a gifted storyteller who has written a collection of funny and endearing rural yarns that offer a snapshot of a unique Australian upbringing in an everchanging landscape.
In between Aunty Boo’s surveillance of the local farmers’ sheep dip alliance and Aunty Bubby’s fireside tales of the Punic Wars, the women offer sage advice to their nieces on growing up as Indigenous girls and belonging in a white country town.
Leane’s inspiration for Purple Threads , was her childhood experiences on a small holding near Gundagai – a life of freedom, protection and love. In a house full of fiercely independent Aboriginal women, Leane was raised to be strong, resilient and proud of her heritage even though at times she was ostracised by peers and abandoned by her mother.
‘In writing a fictionalised version, the main thing I discovered was that there were a lot of unresolved or unanswered questions in my story and this is a reality of life for many Aboriginal families,’ says Leane.
In Purple Threads, the cast of Aboriginal women in a rural setting gives a fascinating insight into both Aboriginal and rural life. Farming is not an easy pursuit for anyone, but Nan and her ‘garden’ of Aunties take all the challenges in their stride, facing torrential rain, violent neighbours and injured dogs with an equal mix of humour and courage.
I felt a big lump rising in my throat. ‘I want to be like everyone else.’ I pouted and curled up in the big old armchair that doubled as a bed. I buried my head in my knees.
Aunty Boo tried another story. She had a passion for quoting philosophers and historians, ever since she’d had to read them aloud to that old Mrs O’Brien.
‘Hey, Epictetus told a good story about bein’ different.’ She paused and took a long whistling breath. She could switch from home talk to flash talk when she needed to. ‘When Epictetus’ mates told him he should be more like everyone else, he came back real smart like an’ said to ’em, ’Because you consider yourself to be only one thread of those that are in a toga it is fitting that you take care how you should be like the rest of men, just as the thread has no design to be anything superior to other threads. But I wish to be purple, that small part which is bright and makes everything else graceful and beautiful. Why then do you tell me to make myself like many? And if I do, how shall I still be purple?
‘I don’t care about Epic-what’s-his-face! I don’t wanna be purple. An’ I don’t wanna be black either.’
My face was burning as I choked back the tears, but Aunty Boo laughed and shook her head.
‘Well, you was born to be purple. So be it! An’ black too, ya hear.’
I couldn’t tell them I wanted to be white then. But if I was white I’d see myself everywhere. In the classroom, when I opened up a book or looked at a picture. In the crowded playground, laughing, skipping and jumping between elastics. Down the main street in town. Or on the movie screen. I’d not stand out from the rest. But purple? Black? Too hard. Too ugly. Too different.
Told with warmth and heart, Purple Threads uses an irreverent style reminiscent of Gayle Kennedy’s Me, Antman & Fleabag and Marie Munkara’s Every Secret Thing, offering an engaging exploration of identity and place.