Posted by: Lisa Hill | July 15, 2018

Wrapping up Indigenous Literature Week 2018 at ANZ LitLovers

As we come to the end of Indigenous Literature Week 2018 at ANZ LitLovers, now in its seventh year, I would like to thank all those who showed their support for NAIDOC week by reading, reviewing, blogging, commenting, tweeting and/or advertising this event in social media.

Last updated 16/7/18)

This year’s readers in alphabetical order were

These readers have contributed:

  • 14 reviews of indigenous Australian writing
    • 8 works of fiction (7 novels, 2 of them YA plus 1 short story collection):
    • 6 non-fiction books (4 memoirs & an anthology of short memoirs, one bilingual history written collaboratively and one anthology of essays about recognition)
  • 3 reviews of Maori writing, (2 novels & 1 short story collection); and
  • a review of a First Nations book from elsewhere in the world
  • a review of Leonie Steven’s ground-breaking work of history which retrieves the words of Indigenous people from original sources at Wybalenna in Tasmania.

My aim in hosting an Indigenous Literature Week  is to encourage people to seek out and enjoy the books that indigenous authors have contributed to Australian and New Zealand literature, but I am also very interested to read books by indigenous authors from other places around the world and so I want to say a special thank you to Becky from Becky’s Books who brought us a review of a book from the First Nations of America.

The reviews readers have contributed have all been added to this site’s database of indigenous reading resources.  This database continues to grow – including everything from children’s books to YA; from memoir to history: and fiction of all kinds.  The reviews which readers have so generously contributed is what makes this a marvellous resource – it’s not just a list of titles, it’s word-of-mouth recommendations.  Those who have contributed to it will be pleased to know that there are two universities and a number of schools, that now link to this database as a resource for students.

I would also like to foreshadow a review of Melissa Lucashenko’s new novel Too Much Lip which is due for release at the end of July so just missed out on being included in this year’s ILW.  It is published by longtime supporters of Indigenous writing, UQP (University of Queensland Press).

I will be monitoring the reviews page until the end of July and will add any additional reviews to the database.  Please use the comments box on the reviews page to indicate where your review is with a URL.

I will also be updating the database of Indigenous reading resources whenever new books come to my attention.  We don’t just read Indigenous authors during ILW, but anytime!

Thanks again, everyone!

PS I’d like to give a special shout out to two of my libraries this year:

  • the Cheltenham Branch of Kingston Library Services mounted a special display of Indigenous books for NAIDOC Week, and
  • the Springvale Library (part of the Greater Dandenong Library network) responded very promptly to my suggestion that they tag Indigenous books in The Vault (their online catalogue) to facilitate easy searching.  (They were already flagging these books with an Aboriginal flag on the spine, but it finding them was just luck.  Now you can find them in the catalogue with a simple search).

NAIDOC Week at Kingston Library

 


Responses

  1. Thanks for organising Lisa and for creating the reviews page / database. It’s a great resource and made me realise how few indigenous authors I’ve read, but knowing there’s a place I can go to to find out which ones I should / could read next is super helpful!

    • You’re welcome, Kim, and thanks for your contribution. (Not your first, either!)
      I was very pleased to see how much traction my post about the women Indigenous authors got, it was tweeted all over the place. I just hope that some of those tweeters ended up reading one of the books!!

  2. Thanks for organizing this.

    I was happy to participate and discover Marie Munkara.

    • Thanks for joining in, Emma:)

  3. Well done Lisa on, once again, providing such magnificent support for NAIDOC week. And a good time to say thank you again for all you do for writers and publishers (and readers), particularly those from Australia and New Zealand.

  4. I’ve had a wonderful reading experience for the 2018 Indigenous Literature Week. I read the short story collection Common People by Tony Birch, selected short stories from Patricia Grace’s Collected Stories, and selected essays from the anthology Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Dr. Anita Heiss. I would like to offer some commentary on these texts.

    This is the second work of fiction that I’ve read by Tony Birch. I read his previous story collection, The Promise, which for some reason hasn’t stuck to mind as much as the collection Common People which may be due to a wider spectrum of diverse characters and settings. The title of the current collection aligns with the scope of the stories due to Birch’s exploration of people from everyday life. Stories that I found particularly interesting were “Harmless”, “Colours”, and “Liam” for its male protagonists who navigate difficult life circumstances (racism, police abuse, poverty) and situations (incarceration, youth delinquency, violence) to simply survive. Unlike The Promise, Common People features more characters of diverse ethnic backgrounds and communities. The titles of the stories seemed a bit simplistic early in the collection, but as I continued to read and critically think about the plot, characterization, and themes presented in them, some of the titles of the later stories seem simple yet complex. I had the pleasure of listening to the Books & Arts podcast featuring Birch discussing Common People. I think that as an author gaining a stronger readership and more critical attention and accolades for his writing, I think that Tony Birch is expanding the terrain of his subject matter and craft choices as a means of not producing works of literature documenting the lives of people from marginalized ethnic groups or communities in a singularized way. There have been expectations by gate keepers of some publishing houses for writers of color to produce literature that mainly focus on the plight of ethnic communities to thrive or present monolithic portraitures of ethnic cultures which is unfair. Dr. Tony Birch has demonstrated that writers of color don’t have to accept being pigeon-holed into a literature to appease publishing experts or literary critics. As renowned author Toni Morrison has noted, if there is a narrative that you think is pertinent and hasn’t been crafted yet, accept the charge to produce that narrative or book.

    Patricia Grace’s Collected Stories features three of her previous story collections. The stories that made a strong impression on me were “Letters from Whetu” and “Transition”. “Letters from Whetu” consist of a series of letters a Maori young adult male name Whetu writes to his friends during his classes at University. He chronicles experiences he and his friends have shared in their early school days, hanging out in their local traditional Maori community and Pakeha (white New Zealand) urban community, and issues with reconciling their familial obligations and traditional Maori customs. In the first letter, Whetu discusses his experience with colonial education where he is chastised for his spelling ‘errors’ which are connected to the vernacular he speaks at home and in his community. The story “Transition” also explores issues of identity, culture, and family. The characters in the story struggles to reconcile with pursuing the Pakeha ‘dream of success’ and maintaining alliance to the matriarchal figure in their family and Maori heritage. What I took notice of in reading Grace’s stories that she doesn’t try to use her fiction to educate Pakeha or non-Maori in a traditional sense by including footnotes with translations and definitions of Maori terms or historical references, but she allows readers to foster meaning through context. Non-Maori readers will have to do some basic research if needed. Overall, Patricia Grace is a gifted writer.

    Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia by Anita Heiss features personal narratives by writers from diverse backgrounds. Some of the writers are established authors while others are being published for the first time. In the introduction to the anthology, Heiss provides thought-provoking commentary on the importance of publishing the text due to the ongoing struggles for black indigenous subjectivity, political and social sovereignty, truth-seeking and ancestry as tools of empowerment, and economic and social sustainability of marginalized communities and populations across Australia………*Since I’m still reading the anthology, I will provide additional comments later.

  5. […] see Sonia a.k.a. S. Maxine’s thoughts in her comment here […]

  6. Wow, Sonia, next time I’m going to invite you to write a guest post!
    What I’ve done (because I want your thoughts to be easily accessible to other readers) is this:
    I’ve linked this comment to both the Grace and Birch books on both the Reviews page and the master Indigenous Reading List, so that readers will be able to come back here to this comment.
    I haven’t done anything with your thoughts about Growing Up Aboriginal yet, because I’m about 2/3 through it myself and I think your comment would be best linked to my review when I do it. (If I forget, please remind me).
    Of course if you’d like to write a guest review, that would be great!

    • Hello Lisa,
      I would love to write a guest review for your blog. My areas of scholarly interest (as you’ve probably figured out) is global, U.S. multicultural, and Black Diasporic feminist literatures. Look forward to collaborating with you.

      • Thanks Sonia … I’ve replied to this by email :)

  7. More a resource than a review – a lot to take in – A Rightful Place edited by Shireen Morris – http://bronasbooks.blogspot.com/2018/07/a-rightful-place-road-map-to.html

    Thanks for hosting this again – it’s always such a good prompt.

    • Thanks for participating, Brona, this is an interesting book and one I didn’t know about so I’m extra pleased to see it here.


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