From 27th May-3rd June Australians of all backgrounds renewed their efforts to achieve reconciliation, the theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week being ‘More than a word. Reconciliation takes action.’ Now that NRW is over, that does not mean the work of reconciliation is done. So to keep these efforts going, below is a booklist to continue your self-education in Australia’s true history and the lived experiences of Indigenous Australians, in the past and the present, through fiction and nonfiction, prose and verse. And remember, every time you buy one of these books from a shop or borrow them from a library, you are actively supporting an Indigenous author, so following up on this booklist is an action in itself. Happy reading!

Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams) by Anita Heiss

Set in Gundagai in 1852, this book follows the Wagadhaany as she escapes the clutches of settlers and begins a journey in search of her ancestry and connection to country. Reviewers have described this novel as courageous and full of heart, and I can see it making its way onto many book award lists next year.

Fire Country: How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia by Victor Steffensen

When we think of Indigenous nonfiction, our minds are often cast to the likes of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu—however there are plenty others that are just as important. Indigenous fire management has been practiced for centuries, and rightly so. It is environmentally effective and has incredible cultural importance. Steffensen puts forth the idea of modern firefighters adopting these practices in order to prevent devastating bushfires and encourages an approach that focusses on land care and healing of the environment.

Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson

This book has a score of awards under its belt already, including winning the 2018 black&write! prize and a place on the 2021 Stella Awards longlist. Set in the town of Darnmoor, it is a story of race relations and the power imbalances within the community and how this imbalance is disrupted after a violent act takes place.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

This young adult dystopian book is the first in a series and is Kwaymullina’s debut. I haven’t read this one yet, however I am a fan of Kwaymullina’s writing after devouring Catching Teller Crow (now titled The Things She’s Seen) last year. The first book in The Tribe series follows Ashala Wolf after she is captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose, a man intent on destroying those closest to her.

Where the Fruit Falls by Karen Wyld

This book is a multigenerational exploration into family, trauma and identity. Told with lyrical prose and a touch of magical realism, it is an unforgettable saga that weaves familial relationships and Country together. The characterisation is exquisite, and the omnipresence of Country as a guiding force for the characters makes this story unique. You can read a full review of this title by Lauren Pratt here.

Ruby Moonlight by Ali Cobby Eckermann

This story, told in verse, tells the story of Ruby as she escapes the brutality of colonisation in the 1880s. Cobby Eckermann has cemented herself as a talented poet and storyteller within the Australian literary scene, and this is just one of her books told in verse. There is a deep connection between the author and nature, which is evident in her work.

Underground Team
editors.underground.writers@gmail.com

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