ANZLL Indigenous Literature Reading List


The annual Indigenous Literature Week will be back in 2018.  Please sign up to indicate your interest on the 2018 ILW blog post when it is announced, not here, thanks.

Indigenous readers please be aware that this page contains the names of deceased persons.

Introduction: please read first:

As a non-indigenous Australian, I am mindful that I do not and cannot know or understand all aspects of indigenous Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori culture or experience, and I hope that nothing here gives offence or causes distress.  Within the limits of my opportunities for research, I have tried to create this page with good will and respect for the cultures included here.

Readers are warned that this page contains the names of deceased persons and may inadvertently use terminology that reflects attitudes or language used at the time of publication that are considered inappropriate today.

Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal LiteraturePlease also note that for the purposes of identifying these authors as indigenous, the nation/language group of Aboriginal authors has been included (where known) but it is beyond the scope of this page to include non-indigenous ancestral heritage as well.   My sources for biographical information have been the AustLit database BlackWords; the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature edited by Anita Heiss, Peter Minter and Nicholas Jose; and author and publisher websites.  For Maori writers I have relied on the NZ Book Council website.

Please also note that although there are contributions to this list from other readers in a variety of genres, my own contributions to this reading list are by intention confined to literary fiction i.e. literary novels and a few memoirs that I’ve read and reviewed on this blog – because that’s what I like to read.  Indigenous people write in a wide variety of genres and there is a wealth of fabulous work available, but it is beyond the scope of this blog to cover them all and literary fiction for adults is the primary focus of this LitBlog.  However, there is also a brief list of children’s books (mostly those I reviewed at my LisaHillSchoolStuff blog), and there are links to reviews by other contributors of poetry, drama, art and music near the end of this page.  For Aboriginal books in the list that I have not yet read myself, I have relied on a title’s classification at the AustLit database BlackWords, supplemented by my reading of extracts in the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature.  For the Maori list, I have relied on recommendations from others and my own limited knowledge.

For those interested in indigenous short stories, memoir, biography, history, poetry, drama, popular fiction including crime, YA (Young Adult) or children’s books, please visit

Also see reviews from participants in ANZ LitLovers Indigenous Literature Weeks

Many of the authors I’ve listed below have written more books than have been listed here, and to discover more, I also suggest a visit to GoodReads as a reliable user-friendly database (with reader reviews).

NB Some of these books are out of print.  Where I haven’t been able to find a supplier, I’ve linked to Fishpond where used copies sometimes crop up for sale, and which (even if the book is out-of-stock) provides the publishing information and ISBN to help with further hunting.  In Victoria, I also recommend using Z-portal to book an inter-library loan.  (Other states probably have something similar and if anyone can supply me with links for interstate portals I’ll add them.)  A Google search brings up copies available from AbeBooks and you can also search Brotherhood Books.

To keep up with new titles, UQP is a strong supporter of indigenous writers in Australia and their Black Australian Writing catalogue is well worth a look.   Another publisher worth checking out is Magabala Books Australia’s oldest indigenous publishing house.   Mademoiselle S from Twitter recommends Huia Publishers for Maori titles and I welcome more independent suggestions for New Zealand equivalents.

I welcome suggestions for additional authors and literary fiction titles.  Please provide as much information as you can in comments if you’d like to add to this list.

Last updated 12/7/17

Australian Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Literary Fiction, YA, & Memoir

Larissa Behrendt of the Eualeyai/Kamilaroi people

Ngarta Jinny Bent, with Jukuna Mona Chuguna of the the Walmajarri people

Tony Birch, born in Melbourne and an urban Koorie of Aboriginal, Irish and West Indian descent

John Muk Muk Burke of the Wiradjuri people

Burnum Burnum, a Woiworrung and Yorta Yorta man at Wallaga Lake in southern New South Wales.

Jukuna Mona Chuguna with Ngarta Jinny Bentof the the Walmajarri people

Vivienne Cleven of the Kamilaroi people

  • Bitin’ Back Shortlisted for the SA Premier’s Award, 2002, Winner of the David Unaipon Award, 2000
  • Her Sister’s Eye Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, Prize for Indigenous Writing, 2004

Claire G Coleman who identifies with the South Coast Noongar people of Western Australia

Dylan Coleman, member of the Kokatha Mula Nation

 Jack Davis, poet and dramatist of the Noongar people, see

Editors Pat Dudgeon from the Bardi people of the Kimberley area in Western Australia, Jeannie Herbert, an Indigenous woman born and raised in the Kimberley area and Darlene Oxenham, a Malgana woman from Shark Bay on the coast of Western Australia

Ali Cobby Eckermann who identifies with the Yankunytjatjara / Kokatha people from the north west desert country of South Australia

Lizzie Marrkilyi Ellis, of the Ngaatjatjarra, one of the language groups making up the Western Desert people of Central Australia

Pictures from my Memory: My story as a Ngaatjatjarra woman, see

Stan Grant of Aboriginal ancestry from the Wiradjuri

Liz Hayden, an indigenous woman from Western Australia

Anita Heiss member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales

Rachel Hennessy, of Aboriginal descent

Rita Huggins, an elder and Jackie Huggins, of the Bidjara Central Queensland and Birri-Gubba Juru North Queensland peoples,

Terri Janke descendant of the Wuthathi/Yadaighana and Meriam people

  • Butterfly Song (I enjoyed this when I read it before starting this blog)

Stephen Kinnane, a Miriuwung Marda-Marda man from the East Kimberley of Western Australia

Kenny Laughton of the Arrernte people

Jeanine Leane, a Wiradjuri woman

Yami Lester, a Yankunytjatjara man from northern South Australia

Melissa Lucashenko of the Ygambeh/Bundjalung people

Too Flash, see Emma’s review at My Book Corner

Keelan Mailman, of the Bidjara people

John Maynard, from the Worimi People of Port Stephens near Newcastle, co-author with Victoria Haskins

Philip McLaren, of the Kamileroi People

Sue McPherson, of Wiradjuri descent

Sally Morgan from the Palku (or Bailgu) people of the Pilbara

Mudrooroo a.k.a. Colin Johnson of the Narrogin people

Marie Munkara, of Rembarranga descent

Bill Neidje, an Elder of the Kakadu and the last remaining speaker of the Gaagudju language

Oodgeroo Noonuccal a.k.a. Kath Walker of the Quandamooka people of Stradbroke Island, Queensland

NT Writers Centre

  • This Country Anytime Anywhere, IADPress,  featuring works by emerging writers as well as many winners of Northern Territory literary awards, including Marie Munkara, winner of the 2008 David Unaipon Award for Every Secret Thing (also judged the 2010 Northern Territory Book of the Year Award).

Siv Palmer from the Yuwallaraay Aboriginal Nation in far west New South Wales.

Bruce Pascoe of the Bunurong people

Doris Pilkington Garimara, of the Martu,

Boori Monty Prior, of Kunggandji and Birri-Gubba descent

Wenten Rubuntja , an Arrernte man from Central Australia

Kim Scott of the Noongar  people of WA

Jared Thomas of the Nukunu / Nuguna people

Ellen Van Neerven, a writer of Mununjali and Dutch heritage who identifies with the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast and Scenic Rim

‘The Sweetest Thing’ in Review of Australian Fiction, Vol 10, No 4, May 2014 see Sue’s review at Whispering Gums

Sam Watson of the Birri-Gubba Juru/Munaldjali people

  • The Kadaitcha Sung (I can’t find this anywhere, not even in a library. It’s very frustrating because the excerpt in the Macquarie PEN Anthology looks so tempting!)

Herb Wharton born in Yumba, an Aboriginal camp in the south-western Queensland town of Cunnamulla

Lesley Williams a Murri Elder, and Tammy Williams, a Murri woman

Tara June Winch of the Wiradjuri people

Fiona Wirrer-George Oochunyung, of Mbaiwum descent

Waipuldanya, a.k.a. Phillip Roberts, of the Alawa people, as told to Douglas Lockwood

Alexis Wright of the Waanyi people

Maori

Arapera Blank, of Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu descent, and winner of the Katherine Mansfield Award in 1959

Lisa Cherrington of  Maori, Niuean, Samoan, Irish and Danish descent

  • The People-Faces

Alan Duff of Ngāti Rangitihi and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent

Jake’s Long Shadow (Once Were Warriors Trilogy #3)

James George of Nga Puhi descent (recommended by Mademoiselle S)

Patricia Grace of Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Ati Awa descent

Whiti Hereaka of Ngati Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa descent

Keri Hulme of Kai Tahu, Kāti Mamoe descent

  • The Bone People (I read this when it won the 1985 Booker Prize, an unforgettable novel )

Witi Ihimaera of Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki descent

Tina Makeriti of Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto descent.

Kelly Ana Morey of Ngati Kuri descent

Paula Morris of Ngati Wai descent

Kelly Ana Morey of Ngati Kuri descent

Alice Tawhai of Tainui and Nga Puhi  descent (recommended by Mademoiselle S)

For more information about Maori writers visit the NZ Book Council.

Huia Publishers specialises in Maori authors, and Fishpond (NZ) have a wide range as well.    (Sometimes they have second-hand copies of out-of-print editions).  Links above are all to Fishpond Australia but I think they work for Kiwis just the same.

Pacific Islands

Thanks to Sandra and to Mademoiselle S for these contributions.

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell  of NZ/Cook Island descent

  • The Frigate Bird, novel, regional finalist for the Commonwealth Writers Prize
  • Sidewinder
  • Tia
  • Fantasy with Witches

Sia Figiel from Samoa

John Puhiatau Pule, an artist/novelist born in Niue and living in Auckland, New Zealand.  His books are hard to find.

  • The Shark that Ate the Sun
  • Burn My Head in Heaven
  • Restless people

Albert Wendt, from Samoa, see also the NZ Book Council

Lani Wendt-Young (born in Apia, Samoa) is a published author living in Auckland, New Zealand. Follow the links from her Sleepless in Samoa blog to buy the books.

  • Telesa – The Covenant Keeper.
  • When Water Burns
  • The Bone Bearer
  • I am Daniel Tahi
  • Scarlet Lies
  • Scarlet Secrets
  • Afakasi Woman (A Collection of Short Fiction)
  • Pacific Tsunami – Galu Afi.

And from elsewhere round the world…

The Game of Silence by Louise Edrich of Ojibwe (American Indian) descent  (review by Becky from Becky’s Books)

Lemona’s tale by Ken Saro-Wiwa, a member of the Ogoni people of Nigeria (see Stu’s review at Winston’s Dad)

Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle of the Canadian Coast Salish people, review by Marilyn from You, Me and Books

April Raintree by Beatrice Culleton, of the Métis people in Canada, review by Marilyn from You, Me and Books

The Indian Killer by Sherman Alexis,  a Native American with ancestry from several tribes. He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Review by Marilyn from You, Me and Books.

The Lone Man by Bernardo Atxaga of the Basque region of Spain, review by Stu from Winston’s Dad

Bilbao – New York – Bilbao by Kirmen Uribe of the Basque region of Spain, review by Stu from Winston’s Dad

Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga of the Basque region of Spain, review by Stu from Winston’s Dad, and by Lisa from ANZ LitLovers

This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson of Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg ancestry in Canada, see Joe’s review at Rough Ghosts

Children’s Books

(All these reviews are on my professional blog, LisaHillSchoolStuff.

Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin, a Senior Wurundjeri elder of the Kulin alliance in Victoria, and Lisa Kennedy, a Trawlwoolway story teller and artist and a descendant of Woretemoeteyenner from North East Tasmania

Indigenous Drama

Jack Davis, poet and dramatist of the Noongar people, see

Andrea James a Yorta Yorta/Kurnai playwright, director and theatre maker

Indigenous Poetry

Marino Blank, of Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu and Swiss descent

Ali Cobby Eckermann who identifies with the Yankunytjatjara / Kokatha people from the north west desert country of South Australia

Natalie Harkin, a Narungga woman from South Australia

  • Dirty Words

Brenda Saunders, artist and writer of Wiradjuri and British descent.

Leanne Simpson, a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg woman from Canada

  • Islands of Decolonial Love

Alison Whittaker, a Gomeroi woman from Gunnedah and Tamworth, north-western New South Wales

  • Lemons in the Chicken Wire

Indigenous Art

Book review: Meerreeng-an: Here is My Country, edited by Chris Keeler and Vicki Couzens

Indigenous Music

Thanks to everyone for their helpful suggestions for this list.

Further reading

Via Mx Keira @khuolohan, these are recommendations for those interested in further explorations at an academic level.

  • Sovereign Subjects, Indigenous Sovereignty Matters by Aileen Moreton-Robinson of the Goenpul tribe, part of the Quandamooka nation on Stradbroke Island in Queensland
  • Decolonising Methodologies, Research and Indigenous Peoples, by Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou, Māori
  • Indigenous Writes, a Guide to First Nations by Chelsea Vowel, a Métis writer and lawyer from near Lac Ste

Responses

  1. Here’s a link from Lani Wendt-Young’s blog on how to buy her book
    http://sleeplessinsamoa.blogspot.com.au/p/books-fiction.html#!/p/books-fiction.html

    • Hi Sandra, as you can see I’ve been busy adding your suggestions to this list, and (behind the scenes) I’ve also drafted a new post inviting people to join in. I still have to tidy that up a bit before I schedule it for publication. Your help has been invaluable, and what a temptation your suggestions have been, if I weren’t recovering from the purchase of solar panels for my roof, I’d be lashing out and buying the lot!

  2. Albert Wendt’s best-known books (still) are

    Sons for the Return Home, available from Amazon and Google books, published in 1973 (I saw the movie when I was at secondary school, screened as a social studies lesson on racism)

    *snip*
    LH: link to Amazon deleted here because of a huge image!

    Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree (short stories and a novella), published in 1974, from the same sources as above.

    The Adventures of Vela, written in epic poem form, won the Best Novel Award for the South East Asia and Pacific region in the Commonwealth Writers Prize, 2010.

    BTW, all these Samoan writers I’ve suggested are “western” Samoans who either live in Samoa or NZ. I don’t know about the literary scene in American Samoa.

    Happy to have helped.

  3. Oops, sorry about the big cover image. Feel free to delete.

    • Thanks, Sandra, I have deleted it, mainly because I try to keep all images here small and easy to load. Having spent my summer holiday in the Hunter Valley I know how frustrating slow bush internet connections are!

  4. Hi Lisa – I’ll read Jake’s Long Shadow. I read the first two in the trilogy years ago and found them very powerful. I’ll read the third!!

    So I don’t sign up to Mr Linky as I don’t have a blog or anything??

    Kate

  5. […] Show your support by signing up on the ANZ LitLovers page and start reading.  Lisa Hill has made a list of literature written by indigenous authors that you can choose from. For those who prefer non-fiction, I have compiled a list of histories and […]

  6. […] writing Fantasy, SciFi or Speculative Fiction.) Alternatively, please join Lisa Hill and others at ANZ LitLovers blog for Indigenous Literature Week, even if it’s only to read and comment on their […]

  7. […] to generate a reading list to inspire you.  For reasons of space and time and personal preference  my reading list is limited to literary fiction titles by indigenous Australian and New Zealand au… but participants are free to choose any form you like – short story, memoir, biography, […]

  8. […] I will gather these links to generate a list which will be added under the headings below on this page. I will also add any new titles that crop up to the master Indigenous Reading List. […]

  9. […] I had an email from Magabala Books during the week to let me know about a couple of titles to include in the Indigenous Authors Reading List. […]

  10. […] a reading list for contributors wanting to read adult books at ANZ LitLovers and Emma from My Book Corner has kindly shared her list of indigenous literature resources for […]

  11. Great list! Kelly Ana Morey’s “Bloom” should definitely figure here though, as well as Anita Heiss’s “I’m Not Racist But…”. Also Lisa Cherrington’s “The People-Faces” (NZ) and Sally Morgan’s “My Place” (OZ) deserve a read.

    • Thank you, Ju:) I will add them to the list.

  12. […] I will gather these links to generate a list which will be added under the headings below on this page. I will also add any new titles that crop up to the master Indigenous Reading List. […]

  13. […] 2012 and 2013 the reading list is growing. For reasons of space and time and personal preference my ANZ LitLovers reading list is limited to literary fiction titles by indigenous Australian and Ne… but participants are free to choose any form you like – short story, memoir, biography, […]

  14. […] will also try to update the resources page when new books come to my attention.  You might like to bookmark this page because you can also […]

  15. […] 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 […]

  16. […] 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; […]

  17. […] When you’ve finished the book, come back and comment on the Reviews from Indigenous Literature page and then I’ll add it to the  reading list. […]

  18. […] You can find reading ideas on book lists here and here and here. […]

  19. Great resource. Here’s a complete list of my books with links to where readers can purchase them in either ebook or paperback format.
    1. Telesa
    2. When Water Burns
    3. The Bone Bearer
    4. I am Daniel Tahi
    5. Scarlet Lies
    6. Scarlet Secrets
    7. Afakasi Woman (A Collection of Short Fiction)
    8. Pacific Tsunami – Galu Afi.

    [LH} Lani’s About page on her blog has links to booksellers for all these books: http://www.laniwendtyoung.me/about/

    • Thanks for getting in touch, Lani. I’ve added these books to the list above with a link to the booksellers on your blog (because, sorry, I don’t like to advertise Amazon on my blog!)

  20. […] out the indigenous literary foundation site and the article by our wonderful local book reviewer Lisa Hill of ANZLit Blog fame, a personal friend, and a Mordialloc writer of […]

  21. […] ANZLL Indigenous Literature Reading List […]

  22. […] ANZLL Indigenous Literature Reading List […]

  23. Please add Samoan author Sia Figiel’s latest novel “Freelove” published in 2016 to the list! She rocks! Also, Maori author Tina Makereti’s “Where The Rekohu Bone Sings” (2014) needs to be on that list, me thinks.

    • Thanks, BronteSista, I’ve added them both.

  24. […] authors and authors from diverse backgrounds. Each year I participate in Lisa Hill’s ‘Indigenous Literature Week’ which she hosts during NAIDOC Week. But reading indigenous authors should not be a once a year […]

  25. […] ANZLL Indigenous Literature Reading List […]

  26. […] ANZLL Indigenous Literature Reading List […]

  27. […] ANZLL Indigenous Literature Reading List […]

  28. […] past (personal favourites  Jack Davis and Oodgeroo Noonuccal ) and also the present. Check out Lisa Hill’s Indigenous Literature list for diverse voices and different lived experiences. James Baldwin said: Not everything that is […]


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