Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 30, 2014

Indigenous authors explore Twitter fiction and new literary genres – AWAYE! – ABC Radio National

Just in time for Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers, comes this most pertinent broadcast on ABC Radio National.  Click the link below:

via Indigenous authors explore Twitter fiction and new literary genres – AWAYE! – ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Also, for members of the Australian Authors Association, there is an interesting article in Australian Author by Melissa Lucashenko.  An edited version of the Colin Simpson Memorial Lecture in October 2013 at the ASA National Writers Congress, the article ‘calls on writers to move beyond outdated depictions of Aborigines as innocent and tragic’.

In a good-humoured and witty presentation, she explores the evolution of the mythology of Aboriginal Australia.  It begins with The Aborigine as the Doomed Innocent, and moves on to The Tragic Aboriginal Incompetent, symbolising Death or Despair.

Of course, I’m not arguing that Aboriginal lives don’t contain tragedy and plenty of it.  It’s not that pain is lacking.  The literary problem is when the suffering is not distinguished from the character.  When the suffering becomes the person and not their circumstances: when the Aborigine is seen as a pure simile for oppression, or what is worse, when aboriginality itself is, and to transcend suffering is to lose your place in Aboriginal society. (Australian Author, June 2014, p. 26)

What she looks for now is literature that offers Aboriginal people ‘on the page’ who are ‘real, live characters with agency, with character arcs, and with futures that both acknowledge and transcend death and suffering and hopelessness’.  (Perhaps as a non-indigenous reader I shouldn’t comment, but it seems to me that Jared Thomas’s Calypso Summer fulfils those criteria.  See my review.  I think Anita Heiss’s choc-lit novels do too, see a review of Paris Dreaming at Whispering Gums.)

I’ll finish by quoting the last paragraph in full:

In art, Australia needs Aboriginal heroes and Aboriginal Everymen and Everywomen.  We need living Aboriginal characters, Aborigines who have never seen inside jail cells or paddy wagons, Aborigines who can thrive, emotionally, spiritually and economically, and bring The Good Life to the stories they inhabit.  I wrote Mullumbimby because I wanted a novel to exist where Aboriginal people had four things: Beauty.  Power.  Humour. And Land. These are four things we must retain if our lives are to become what they should.

This year, ANZ LitLovers’ Indigenous Literature Week hopes to celebrate books which empower their authors, and Aboriginal people everywhere!


  1. Sounds like a great speech Lisa. I’ve also loved TV shows like Redfern Now and The Gods of Wheat Street for doing what she wants. Slowly but surely – with perhaps two steps forward, one step back – we are getting there. It should have been faster but I think – I hope – it’s happening.


    • Oh yes, those programs were excellent, I agree! I hardly ever watch TV but if I missed an episode I made sure I caught up with iView.


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