Posted by: Lisa Hill | April 30, 2012

Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers…

Inspired by fellow book bloggers such as Kinna at Kinna Reads, Iris on Books,  and Kim from Reading Matters, I’m toying with the idea of hosting an Indigenous Literature Week here at ANZ LitLovers, but first I need some help.

It would tie in with NAIDOC Week (1-8 July 2012 ) so that gives me a bit of time to learn how to use Mr Linky and to gather a suggested reading list.  And that’s the problem: although participants would be free to choose indigenous literature from anywhere round the world, I need to have a quality reading list for literature written by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and by Maori.

So far my list of indigenous Australian novelists (literary fiction) just looks like this, though I plan to explore this list at Wikipedia:

  • Kim Scott
  • Alexis Wright
  • Larissa Behrendt
  • Tara June Winch
  • Mudrooroo Nyoongah (Colin Johnson)

My list for Maori novelists so far?  There is this helpful list at Christchurch City Library but I don’t know which ones are literary novelists, except for these ones that I’ve read or have on my TBR:

  • Patricia Grace
  • Alan Duff
  • Keri Hulme
  • Witi Ihimaera

You can see the problem!  So, dear readers, your suggestions, in comments below, please!

PS Any suggestions for indigenous novelists from anywhere else e.g. Canada,  the US, New Guinea etc are welcome too.  Please make sure that you include the name of the Indigenous People e.g. Inuit, Comanche, Papuan, as well as the country it comes from along with the author/title.

PPS Amy Williams at the National NAIDOC  kindly sent me this link for a catalogue featuring many indigenous authors.  It lists some interesting books to strain the TBR…

Update May 4th: I’ve constructed a page listing suggested literary fiction titles by indigenous Australian and New Zealand authors.  The permanent link is on the ANZLL Books You Must Read page in the top menu, and you can also find it in the list of Pages near the bottom of the RH Menu.


  1. Author Anita Heiss had a list of indigenous authors on her blog a while back as she was challenging people to extend their reading list. You might find it useful

    Also, Mr Linky is easy as to use. Let me know if you need help, and I will most likely participate if it does go ahead.


    • Brilliant, thanks, Marg:)
      And thanks for the Mr L offer, I’ll be taking you up on it!


  2. Sally Morgan would be another one Lisa.


    • Yes, and I loved it (just did a re-read and blogged it here a short while ago). But that’s memoir, not literary fiction. There’s lots of life stories around, no problem!


  3. Nice idea Lisa … so you’re only doing literary fiction? Indigenous Literature Week could imply more – memoirs, poets (like Oodgeroo Noonuccal), etc. There’s Marie Munkara’s Every secret thing.

    Anita Heiss’s list is great … I hadn’t seen that before.

    Totally by coincidence, but tonight’s Monday Musings is probably going to be an indigenous topic, depending on the talk I’m attending in a couple of hours.


    • *chuckle* If you use the criteria for literature that they use in the Macquarie PEN, then all kinds of non-fiction count as literature. My plans are only tentative at this stage, but I’d really like to discover more authors like the ones I’ve listed if I can.


      • I understand and can certainly relate to the desire to narrow it to novels … that’s really my first interest too. Things is though that if you study Literature at university, you do study drama and poetry as well as novels – and these days memoir if not also biography are regularly included (from what I’ve seen of courses). I think “literature” does tend to mean written work of a lasting value which is probably why the Macquarie anthology went for a broad approach?


        • True, true, we did heaps of plays and poetry at Melbourne in the long ago when I did my degree. But the beauty of the internet is that one can carve out a niche, and my niche here is really literary fiction in the form of novels. If anyone takes any notice of my opinion at all, it’s in my reviews in that field and in no other.
          Karenlee Thompson as a guest reviewer does a wonderful job of reviewing short stories and memoirs for me, but I really can’t ask her to take on responsibility for recommending what’s good and worthwhile in those areas, it wouldn’t be fair to her.
          Soooo, the smart thing to do, is to invent a new form of ‘literary week’, a collaborative one! You host the bios and the memoirs and the poetry, and I do the novels. What do you think?


          • Oh oh … that’s what I get for getting involved in semantics!! Am happy to talk to you a bit more about it though, because I think memoir in particular is an important part of indigenous literature.


            • Again, true, true. Given what the Stolen Generations have gone through, it’s vital that they tell their stories.
              But IMO there is more to Aboriginal culture than what has been done *to* them, there must also be a place for their dreamings and their view of the world to translate into story-telling of a different kind. Because they have always told stories as a way of teaching others & as a way of passing on what’s important from one generation to another We saw this in the film Ten Canoes. This is what Kim Scott and Alexis Wright have done in their novels. Anita Heiss is doing it with chick lit, Larissa Behrendt is doing it too. I want more of *that*.


              • Oh yes … so do I … I just want it all.

                I must say that just looking at That deadman dance again tonight and Carpentaria briefly a little while ago made me want to read them both again!


                • Especially Carpentaria. I think I would get more from it this time.


  4. I’m not sure of the criteria Lisa but I would love to see Mudrooroo (Colin Johnson) included. I’ll give it some more thought but that is the name that springs immediately to my mind (I was enthralled and entranced by ‘Dr Wooreddy’s Prescription for Enduring the Ending of the World’).
    By the way…what on earth is Mr Linky?


    • Good one, Karen, I’ve just ordered that from the library. (Fishpond have it, but it’s quite expensive for some reason).
      Mr Linky is a widget that people use to sign up for things like reading challenges online. If you have a look at Iris’s current Dutch literature month, you can see one there.


  5. Tony Birch for sure!


    • Yikes,, yes, Claire, nominated for the MF and all! The shortlist is due out next week and I haven’t finished Frank Moorhouse’s one, and the library hasn’t come good with a copy of Blood yet! Very frustrating!!
      PS Can you tell me, is Blood YA?


      • No, Blood is definitely not young adult. I mean, I suppose a certain kind of young adult might read it but it is not at all classed as YA. Also, his short story collection – Shadowboxing, could be another one for you.


  6. No suggestions other than Sally Morgan – Which has already been suggested – I will definitely join in the challenge – will start keeping an eye out for one, maybe two books.


  7. Great idea and great discussion!!! I think it is important to differientiate between the literary reworking of the tradition like Carpentaria and simple but well-done accounts like those of Sally Morgan, Rita Huggins, and Doris Kartinyeri which are autobiographical accounts of what was “done to” people. I hope you can find a way to include both though I too find the more literary ones most interesting.

    Anita Heiss did a fine introduction to Aboridginal women’s writing for the Australain Women Writers Challenge back in January. I can’t find the web address, but I will email you the copy I made for my files. Lots of additional suggestions here and leads to follow for more.

    This should be fun. I just hope I can get the books here in USA.



    • Indeed yes, this is going to be fun!


      • Sorry, but I can’t find my link or Dr. Heiss’s blog on AWW or your email to send you the copy I made. I sure you dould get her list and discussion directly from her or from Elizabeth Lhuede. I think it was good enough to be worth finding it. It is longer than anything in the comments here.


  8. I can’t think of any that you haven’t mentioned but I have Carpentaria and two Patricia Grace books in my bookshelves waiting to be read – what a great incentive to pick them up from the shelf!


    • I agree, I’m starting to look forward to this myself!


  9. Hi Lisa,

    Joining late, but these may be of some interest:

    Albert Wendt, Samoan
    Paula Morris, Maori
    Alice Tawahi, Maori (short stories)
    Kelly Ana Morey, Maori

    I will go and look at your link now (pr’haps should have done that first :) )



    • Hi Sandra, can you help with titles of some novels please and some advice about where to source them? Thanks, Lisa


  10. Aargh, just spent the best part of 45 minutes sourcing websites, etc … one wrong move and it’s all gone!

    So here’s a much briefer reply. Samoa first.

    Sia Figiel is a Samoan woman novelist. Read about her here.

    Albert Wendt on the same website.

    And on the NZ Book Council site:

    Lani Wendt-Young (born in Apia, Samoa) is a published author living in Auckland, New Zealand. She is also the niece of well-known author, poet and artist Albert Wendt.

    Her writing career was launched when the National University of Samoa held a Short Story competition in 2002. Lani went on to win with ‘A Sister’s Story’. Since then, her work has been published in collections out of New Zealand, Australia and Samoa, and she has a number of published books to her name.

    Sandra’s note: She has published a YA fiction title, the first in a series (what else?). I believe the books are self-published.


  11. Maori writers:

    Paula Morris:,%20Paula

    Kelly Ana Morey:

    Alice Tawahi (BTW she has made a thing of having no public persona, we don’t even know if this is her real name):

    Whiti Hereaka:

    Huia Publishers specialises in Maori authors:

    Also try Fishpond for books:


  12. […] first week in July there is the Indigenous Literature Week challenge being run by ANZlitlovers, so as I have a few books lined up for that – I will make a […]


  13. […] between black and white Australia. I have had this one for a while now; it is for a July challenge, Indigenous Literature Week , being run by […]


  14. […] Indigenous Literature Week challenge being run by ANZlitlovers starts on Sunday, so I will be reading Swallow the Air by Tara […]


  15. […] seem to want them. May sets off to find her father and her Aboriginal identity. Picked for the Indigenous Literature Week being run by […]


  16. […] Square.   If you’re keen to read indigenous literature, you might want to join in Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers, I’m hosting it there each year during NAIDOC Week.  (If you don’t know where to […]


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: