Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 4, 2022

Announcing 2022 First Nations Reading Week at ANZ LitLovers

8/6/22 Please note: this page has been edited to reflect its name change to First Nations Reading Week. 

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

ANZ LitLovers Indigenous Literature First Nations Reading Week is a virtual event that has always been about encouraging Australians to read and learn from Indigenous authors and to celebrate all forms of Indigenous First Nations Writing.

This year ANZ LitLovers will again be hosting Indigenous Literature First Nations Reading Week to coincide with NAIDOC Week,
from Sunday July 3rd to Sunday July 10th 2022.

The NAIDOC 2022 theme – Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! – calls for working together for systemic change.

I hope that many readers will join in and read a book by a First Nations author.  But even if you don’t have time or opportunity to do that, at least you can read the reviews, because educating ourselves about Australia’s Black History and culture, and listening to First Nations voices is a pathway forward.

Reading the reviews of First Nations-authored books that have been featured during First Nations Reading Week at ANZ LitLovers every year 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 First Nations authors.

While I would like Australians to participate by reading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature, participants are welcome to join in reading First Nations literature from anywhere in the world, from Canada to Guyana, from Native American to Basque to Pashtun or Ixcatec. (For a list of First Nations people of the world, see this list at Wikipedia.) As to how we define First Nations, that’s up to First Nations people themselves.  If they identify as First Nations, 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 FNRW the reading list is now extensiveFor reasons of space and time and personal preference my reading list is mostly literary fiction titles by First Nations Australian and New Zealand authors but participants are free to choose any form —short story, memoir, poetry, biography, genre-benders or whatever takes your fancy!  The permanent link to my reading list (and to other useful reading lists) is on the ANZLL First Nations Literature List in the top menu. (There is a list of First Nations Women Writers there too.)

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

Interested?

  • 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 First Nations Reading Week at ANZ LitLovers 2022 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.

If you would like to read works by an author who comes from the place where you live and you know its First Nations place name, you can use the drop-down menu in the RHS to search, using ORIGIN OF AUTHOR by continent/Australasian Literature/AUSTRALIAN authors by First Nations.


I have a wealth of reading on the TBR.  It’s unlikely I can read them all, but I’ve listed them here as an ambition.  I tend to read recent releases first, but this year I’m going to try to read the ones that have been on the TBR for too long.

  • Bitin’ Back, by Vivienne Cleven, of the Kamilaroi people in Queensland
  • Black and Blue, by Veronica Gorrie, a Krauatungalang Gunai woman.
  • True Tracks, Respecting Indigenous Knowledge and Culture, by Terri Janke, a Murri woman of Torres Strait descent with Meriam, Wuthathi & Yadaighana connections.
  • Loving Country, a guide to sacred Australia, by Bruce Pascoe of the Bunurong people in Victoria and Vicky Shukuroglou
  • Born into This, by Adam Thompson, a Pakana man from Launceston, Tasmania
  • If Everyone Cared, the autobiography of Margaret Tucker (1904-1996) a Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman from New South Wales.
  • When Rosa came Home by Karen Wyld, of Martu descent, from people of the Pilbara region in Western Australia

I have two Samoan books among titles from New Zealand:

  • What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? by Alan Duff (Maori)
  • The Graphologist’s Apprentice by Whiti Hereaka (Maori)
  • The Dream Swimmer (The Mahana trilogy #2) by Witi Ihimaera (Maori)
  • Scarlet Lies by Lani Wendt Young (Samoa/Maori)
  • Leaves of the Banyan Tree by Albert Wendt (Samoa, resident in NZ)

Also on the TBR is a recent release from UQP: The Strangers by Red River Métis (Michif) Canadian First Nations author Katherena Vermette.  Please see my review of this book to see why Métis people are not identified as ‘First Nations’ in Canada.

Most of the above titles can be purchased, but although things have improved for high profile Indigenous writers mainstream publishers don’t generally make it easy to find (or find out about) new First Nations writing.  I find the most useful sources for First Nations titles are

  • UQP – use their Categories /Fiction /Indigenous 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) and select ‘Aboriginal and Indigenous’.  Not all these titles are by indigenous authors so choose carefully;
  • and indigenous publishing houses Magabala Books and Jukurrpa/IAD Press

PS Please use the #FirstNationsReadingWeek hashtag on Twitter.

This post was written on the traditional land of the Ngaruk-Willam clan, one of the six clans of the Bunerong (Boonwurrung or Boon wurrung) saltwater people of the Kulin nation.


Responses

  1. I’m giving my grandson Tamihana the novel Auē by Becky Manawatu, maybe I’ll read it for next year’s ILW. I’ve given you a couple of First Nations books for your page, from my North America project, but for June I’m reading James Baldwin. Bad Planning. I have Claire G Coleman’s third SF novel on order but it will probably miss the cut. Blame her bad planning. I’m not sure where to go from there but I may re-do my review of Chelsea Watego’s Another Day in the Colony, which surprisingly no one has approached yet (that I’ve noticed).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m planning to read Chelsea Watego’s Another Day in the Colony… I joined the Rabble Books First Nations book subscription and this was the first book that arrived.

      Like

      • Thanks Kim, I’ll see what else I can come up with.

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    • Auē is a fantastic book, I look forward to seeing what you think of it.
      I heard Coleman talking about her book/s at the Margaret River Festival just recently, but I didn’t blog any of it because I was just too busy with other things to take notes and do it properly. Still, It was nice of them to make it available digitally, most festivals have abandoned that, and I miss being able to ‘travel’ far and wide to the different litfests, especially the WA ones.
      I did read your review of Another Day in the Colony, *chuckle* ’tis quite brief though your enthusiasm is obvious. I’ve heard her talk about it too, though I can’t remember where/how that came about…
      PS I was hoping that Alexis Wright’s new one would be out in time, but it looks unlikely. Which is a good thing because I really must read some of my TBR.

      Like

  2. I will be participating, Lisa, I’ve got a nice stack ready and waiting. I recently did some cultural awareness training as part of my new job and it was wonderful… one of the recommendations was to educate yourself about Indigenous Australians by reading widely, both fiction and non-fiction, and I couldn’t agree more.

    Like

    • That’s great, thank you!
      That cultural awareness training sounds interesting, it sounds like you have a good employer.

      Like

      • The training was brilliant. They are even planning Noongar language lessons soon and I really want to give that a shot.

        Like

        • It’s a lovely language. I bought some bilingual Noongar children’s stories by Kim Scott for the school library and I used to read them to my junior classes, and we just loved the sound of them.
          *musing*
          It’s strange how some languages are lovely to listen to, almost musical, like Italian and Spanish and Indonesian. Some Aboriginal languages make me think of water run over stones in a creek,,,

          Liked by 1 person

          • Did I tell you I met Kim Scott recently? He was at a book launch for David Whish-Wilson here at a pub in Freo, and I had a fan girl moment and gushed about Benang and he said I must be a very patient reader cos most people found it a difficult read!

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            • I had a fan girl moment when he was here in Melbourne for the Premier’s Lit Awards. This was before the announcement that he’d won and looking back on it, he must have known and yet he was generous with his time and we had quite a long chat about his Noongar language project. (That’s where I bought the bilingual book).

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Lisa,

    I have Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese on the shelf, I’ll try to read it on time.

    Thanks for organizing this event again.

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    • Hello Emma, that sounds perfect, thanks for joining in!

      Like

  4. I have a stack too, including After story which will be done later in the month with my reading group. Then I have Heiss, Araluen, another Behrendt and others on the pile!

    Like

  5. I just brought a memoir from Patrrice Grace the New Zealand be perfect for this other than that I’m sure I may find another to squeeze in

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  6. Hello Lisa and Lit Enthusiasts,

    I’m elated to participate in this year’s Indigenous Literature Week. NAIDOC’s 2022 Theme is a call to action against injustice which is reminiscent of the song, “Get Up Stand Up” by Bob Marley & Peter Tosh. I want to share some literature titles by Australian Aboriginal, Pasifika, and Maori writers that I take great interest in:

    Fiction
     Born into This by Adam Thompson
     The White Girl by Tony Birch
     After Story by Larissa Behrendt
     Small Holes in the Silence by Patricia Grace

    Biography/ Autobiography/ Memoir
     Am I Black Enough For You? 10 Years On by Anita Heiss

    Essays
     Sister Girl: Reflections on Tiddaism, Identity and Reconciliation by Jackie Huggins

    Poetry
     Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen

    Children’s Books
     Mophead & Mophead Tu: The Queen’s Poem by Selina Tusitala Marsh

    I would like to recommend the digital project, Living Nations, Living Words, created by the United States First Nations poet laureate Joy Harjo. She has used her platform to promote and disseminate literature by Native and other Indigenous poets. Here is the link to Living Nations, Living Words:
    https://www.loc.gov/programs/poetry-and-literature/poet-laureate/poet-laureate-projects/living-nations-living-words/

    I hope to learn about other writers and texts that the ANZ LitLovers community will celebrate.

    Happy reading,
    Sonia Adams, U.S.A.

    Like

    • Hello Sonia, as always, it’s good to hear from you — and thank you for the mention of that book by Patricia Grace because I’ve read many of her books but I didn’t know about that one.
      I’ll have a look at that website that you suggest… what I am so pleased about is that recognition and promotion of First Nations writing is so much better than when I started over a decade ago!

      Like

  7. […] First Nations writers so will count these towards my own Reading First Nations Writers project and Lisa’s Indigenous Literature Week (July […]

    Like

  8. Hi Lisa, Thanks for organising this again! I’m planning to participate by reading The Swan Book by Alexis Wright of the Waanyi people.

    Like

    • Wonderful, welcome aboard, that is such an amazing book!
      (And she’s got a new one coming out later this year, so that’s a treat in store.)

      Like

      • Oh, I didn’t know that – I’ll look out for the new release later this year. I read Carpentaria years ago and really enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to this one.

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        • I think The Swan Book is even more engaging than Carpentaria so I expect you will enjoy it:)

          Like

  9. I will be participating Lisa – no idea what I will read, beyond it will be Australian released, and likely to be connected to NSW.

    Like

    • Wonderful, Julie, it’s great to have you back again!

      Like


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