Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 4, 2020

Announcing 2020 Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers

Cultural warning: Indigenous Australians are advised that some references in this blog include images or names of people now deceased.

Due to COVID_19, the National NAIDOC Committee has decided to postpone NAIDOC Week 2020 (5 July – 12 July) in the interest of safety for Indigenous communities…


Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers is a virtual event that has always been about encouraging Australians to read and learn from Indigenous authors…


ANZ LitLovers will again be hosting Indigenous Literature Week in July (5 to 12 July), to celebrate all forms of Indigenous Writing.

I hope that many readers will join in and read a book by an Indigenous author.  But even if you don’t have time or opportunity to do that, at least you can read the reviews.

This week, there was a newspaper editorial that asserted that Australia did not have a legacy of slavery like America.  Clearly, that editor had never read Not Just Black and White, by Tammy Williams and Lesley Williams, which won the David Unaipon Award in 2015 and told the history of Indigenous people being legally unable to withdraw from work for which they were unpaid. Nor had he read Marie Munkara’s A Most Peculiar Act (2014) which refers to the Aboriginal Ordinances Act of 1918 which authorised Indigenous people being taken from their families and re-named; being educated in a way that facilitated their exploitation; being forced to work without wages; having their movements and relationships restricted; and having stolen from them, their human rights to their language, religion and culture.  While Australia did not have private ownership and trade in human beings as America did, only the most narrow definition of slavery could justify that editor’s assertion.

  While I would be the first to say that no one can read everything that’s published, it doesn’t take long to read reviews of Indigenous literature which clearly explain these issues.  And I would have thought that every journalist who has the temerity to comment on Indigenous issues would make it their business to keep up.

Educating ourselves about Australia’s Black History is not an optional extra.  It is a moral obligation.

Reading the reviews of Indigenous-authored books that have been featured during Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers every year since 2012 is not the only place to start educating yourself, but it’s an easy place to start because the reviews lead to the authentic, authoritative voices of Indigenous authors.

While I would like Australians to participate by reading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature, participants are welcome to join in reading indigenous literature from anywhere in the world, from Canada to Guyana, from Native American to Basque to Pashtun or Ixcatec. (For a list of indigenous people of the world, see this list at Wikipedia.) As to how we define indigenous, that’s up to indigenous people themselves.  If they identify as indigenous, well, that’s good enough for me, (and if you want to see how foolish it is to label people, see the first quotation here.)

Thanks to contributions from a fantastic bunch of participants in previous years of ILW the reading list is now extensiveFor reasons of space and time and personal preference my reading list is mostly literary fiction titles by indigenous Australian and New Zealand authors but participants are free to choose any form —short story, memoir, poetry, biography, whatever takes your fancy!  The permanent link to my reading list (and to other useful reading lists) is on the ANZLL Indigenous Literature Reading List in the top menu. (There is a list of Indigenous Women Writers there too.)

Thanks to all those who joined in last year and have encouraged me to host the week again.


  • If you’d like to participate simply say so in comments below.  Tell us what you think you might read in the comments box to help spread awareness of what’s available. .  You never know, you might encourage someone else to try the book too! (You can always change your mind later if you want to).
  • Bookmark the page for Reviews from Indigenous Literature Week at ANZ LitLovers 2020 so that you can use the comments box there either
    • to provide the URL of your review on your blog, your Goodreads page or your Library Thing page, or
    • to share your thoughts as a comment and then I’ll add it to the reading list.
  • If you would like to write a guest review of your book for ANZLL I will happily host it here too.

From the TBR I plan to read these titles from Australia:

  • On A Barbarous Coast by Craig Cormack and Harold Ludwick (a Bulgun Warra man);
  • Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina (from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region);
  • Benevolence by Julie Janson (a Burruberongal woman of the Darug Nation);
  • Tripping with Jenny by Mudrooroo a.k.a. Colin Johnson (published posthumously, see my obituary);
  • Australia Day, by Stan Grant (a “self-identified Indigenous Australian who counts himself among the Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi, Dharrawal and Irish”); and
  • (on reserve at the library), The Wounded Sinner by Gus Henderson, (whose people are from the Flinders Ranges region in SA)

and from New Zealand (if I get time)

  • The Matriarch (The Mahana Family #1) by Maori author Witi Ihimaera

Most of the above titles can be purchased, but publishers don’t generally make it easy to find (or find out about) indigenous writing.  I find the most useful sources for indigenous titles are

  • UQP – use their Browse Books menu to find David Unaipon Award winners, titles from the Blak & Bright Festival, and Black Australian Writing;
  • Wakefield Press – choose browse by category from the top RHS side of the home page (under the search box).  Not all these titles are by indigenous authors so choose carefully;
  • and indigenous publishing houses Magabala Books and Jukurrpa/IAD Press

(There is, of course, AustLit’s Black Words, but there’s not much point in me supplying a link to a subscription-only resource.)

PS Please use the #IndigLitWeek hashtag on Twitter.


  1. […] For information about ILW 2020, click here. […]


  2. If I can, Lisa, I will take part, but of course I may not. I have Archie Roach’s memoir, Benevolence, and, the one I’ve been trying to read for the last few years, Finding Eliza – all on my TBR.

    Good on you for continuing it. Surely NAIDOC could be run as a media event so that it’s not completely forgotten, but just without the physical aspects. Of course, if they postpone it and still have it this year that would be good, but it would be a shame if they did nothing this year at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I suspect that the limiting factor is that they decide all these things collaboratively and getting together to do that is difficult, and also, from what I’ve seen on the NAIDOC site in previous years, the vast majority of activities are gatherings for music and dance and storytelling, all of which would be risky.
      But I do think they could possibly do some of their awards virtually…


  3. I’ll join in this year.
    Can I provide a link over on the correct page to a book I’ve already read a couple of month’s ago? It’s just that it really was quite excellent, an examination of the link between dispossession and suicide in Indigenous communities world wide (including Australia) written by an Indigenous writer from Canada.


    • Yes, please do, Theresa. The important thing is to get the word out about the books, and the ‘week’ is only a means to that end and I’m totally flexible about it:)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for mentioning my review of It’s Still in My Heart, This is My Country. I would like to say too that I continue slowly to document the massacres of Indigenous people which occurred in WA, my home state and so Every Mothers Son is Guilty by Chris Owens might go in your Lit about Indigenous people section. As for this year, I have Dark Emu with me which I will try to read, I also have Roberta Sykes’ Snake Cradle, but I will cast around for a new work of Indig.Lit.


    • I added It’s Still in My Heart to the Indigenous Lit List last year under the heading Further reading …books such as Lyndall Ryan’s Tasmanian Aborigines which are not necessarily written by Indigenous authors, but are IMO essential all the same. So, would the other Chris Owen book go in that section, or in the section for Indigenous authors—and if Chris Owens is Indigenous, can you tell me what his country is because I always add that as a matter of respect.
      Dark Emu is brilliant!


  5. I’ll have a hunt through the TBR but I know I’ve got Eden Robinson’s first collection of stories in there somewhere so I’ll post on that. I’ll look forward to the week!


  6. Good lord. *Most* nations have a history of slavery, shamefully, don’t they?


    • All too many are still complicit in modern day slavery… servants all over SE Asia and the Middle East, for example…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for doing this again, Lisa. I’m planning to join in. Like madamebibliophile I’m looking through my TBR pile, where I have Tara June winch’s the Yield. But if I can get hold of a copy I’d like to read one of Ellen van Neerven’ books of poetry for the occasion.


    • Hi Jonathan, great to hear you’re joining us. I think Ellen Van Neervan has a new collection out but I would be great if you could review any of her poetry (my weak spot, as you know).
      I think you’ll love The Yield.


  8. Hello Lisa and ANZ LitLovers,

    It’s been I a while since I posted in response to your blog Lisa, but I’m intentional in my commitment to reading and responding to literature by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers. I’m in agreement with the stance of being informed on social, political, and economic issues affecting Indigenous people across the world. Reading literature by Native American authors in the United States has broadened my knowledge on issues of civic responsibility, environmental justice, and western colonialism.

    I read The Age editorial, “Australia not immune from US-style racial tension” and was struck by the misconceptions some people have about slavery, colonialism, police brutality, and racism. These are power systems at work against Black, Brown, Black Indigenous, and Brown Indigenous people for centuries. I don’t want to use my post as a political manifesto, but it’s important to note that even though some countries may not have a history rooted in slavery or other structural force of oppression, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any correlations, common threads woven into the fabric of first-world nations in the subjugation of ethnic populations.

    As an African American, I accept the charge to speak about the experiences of people from traditionally marginalized populations. I speak against the deaths of George Floyd and David Dungay, the destruction of the ancestral site in the Juukan Gorge, and the lives of other Black people who’ve been victimized by racism, poverty, and violence. And I speak for the Black Indigenous peoples of Australia, past and present, who have and continue to remain strong, courageous, and resilient amid great challenges. I also accept the charge to read books literature by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Indigenous writers.

    In commemoration of 2020 Indigenous Literature Week, I would like to read/re-read the following books:
     Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss
     Short story “Letters from Whetu” by Patricia Grace
     We are Family, We are Deadly (Yawning Strong Series) by Gayle Kennedy &Ross Carnsew
     Talking to My Country by Stan Grant

    I owe you a book review Lisa. Look forward to everyone’s book titles for Indigenous Literature Week.

    Peace & Blessings,


  9. It’s lovely to hear from you Sonia, not least because silence during the pandemic can remain forever unexplained. Every time I hear from a virtual friend, I think, thank goodness, he/she is all right.
    I think your perspective on the Indigenous texts you’re going to (re)read will be invaluable, and I’d be very happy to host a review when you are ready.
    However, I have had a small disaster with my computer in the last 24 hours and am temporarily without all my usual programs. (I can’t open a Word document, for example, because I don’t have that software on the little travel laptop I am using in the interim.) So if/when you have a review you’d like me to host, please email me at anzlitloversATbigpondDOTcom and I will let you know how to get it to me.
    Stay safe and well, Lisa


  10. […] black humour out of Australia’s Black History.  One that I referenced just recently in my post announcing Indigenous Literature Week in July is Marie Munkara’s A Most Peculiar Act (2014).  As I said in my post, if the editor of The […]


  11. I’ll join this year, Lisa! So exciting! Thanks so much for hosting Indigenous Literature Week!


  12. I’ll join and I’ll probably read Blood by Tony Birch.


    • Great, thanks Emma. That’s a very powerful book!


  13. […] Indigenous Literature Week (July 5-12, 2020) on […]


  14. Hopefully I will write up another Indigenous picture book post this year. There are some beautiful stories so far this year – I just have to find time to write down my thoughts….


    • That would be great Brona, your previous one was terrific.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. […] the lead-up to #IndigLitWeek 2020 in July, here’s a most unusual novel to pique your […]


  16. […] was cooking tea and will finish it before I do anything else. Like choose a book for ANZLL’s Indigenous Literature Week (July 5-12, 2020) for […]


  17. I am keen to join in for the first time! Thanks for hosting, Lisa.


  18. I still hope to do Archie Roach (if not Benevolence) but I haven’t started it yet! I am also doing another Indigenous-related Monday Musings for tomorrow


    • Don’t stress, Sue, your life is busy at the moment. And of course you know that I accept contributions right up to the end of July anyway xo


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