Aussie Author month: The Literate Country & Giveaway

Please allow me to step aside from the sexy stuff for a moment . . .

I'm lucky. For a lot of reasons. Today I'm lucky because I'm holding a real, 3 dimensional copy of my soon-to-be-released book, The Yearning, in my hand. (Ebooks are all very well, but there is nothing to compare with the physical artifact). A book I was able to write because I'm literate, compliments of the Australian government school system. This morning I was lucky because I woke up - and was able to read the weather and emails on my iPad. Last night I was lucky because I spent an hour reading with my daughter, then an hour more reading to myself.

It's easy to take simple privileges for granted. In Australia we often take our freedom (political, social, economic) for granted. That also goes for hot showers, fresh food and being literate.

I'm so grateful I'm able to read, and able to share the act of reading with my child. Books are a window to understanding the world. They have opened up many fascinating conversations, have presented me with new friends, new ideas, new knowledge. Being literate also gives me the power to act in my own world.  I can drive because I can read road signs. I can stand up for myself because I can read rules and inform myself about how my world works. It's a skill I use and take for granted every single day.

Yet there are many children in Australia who don't have access to the world of words because . . .  well . . . because they happened to be born in an extremely remote Aboriginal community. Yet it isn't as simple as that. The myriad of factors that have contributed to such enormous gaps in literacy between Aboriginal and non-Indigenous children in Australia are complex and difficult to summarise in 100 words or less. It has a lot to do with successive policy failures and with our colonised culture's inherent blind spots. The important thing is, someone is doing something about it. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation is the major charity supported by Aussie Author month - a month of celebrating the unique qualities of Australian authors.

Being a female Australian author is a tough gig. The history of gender bias in terms of publication and prizes in this country is already well documented. But try being an Aboriginal author, or female Aboriginal author, and then you're really up against it. Which is why I've made it a priority to read Aboriginal authors, and buy their books, and follow their tweets and blogs, for the past few years. Aboriginal stories and voices are vital to Australia's growth and cultural identity. Until Aboriginal authors enjoy the same prominent position in our cultural landscape as non-Indigenous authors, we can't really see who we are, we can't be whole as a nation.

So, to celebrate Aussie author month, and to encourage up-take of our wonderful Aboriginal authors, I'm offering a giveaway of signed copy of my new book, The Yearning, plus my pre-loved copy of Black Chicks Talking by Leah Purcell (featuring the likes of Deborah Mailman, Rachel Perkins and Kathryn Hay). Just leave a comment here naming an Aboriginal author you've read and enjoyed. Open to Aust/NZ residents only. Winner announced 7 May 2013.

Or better yet, leave a donation on the Aussie Author Month Indigenous Literacy Foundation fundraising site.


Kim Scott – That Deadman Dance, I like to support my state. Very interesting read.

KateBellex's picture

I bought that and still haven’t got to it. I read his first one and really enjoyed it.

Not meeting Mr Right by Anita Heiss -and she is fantastic. She says she took up writing chick lit because there weren’t any brown people (her words) in this genre and she’s been slaying the competition and the critics ever since. What I love most about her writing is that she actually gives an opinion on things that usually polarise an audience, she doesn’t sit on the fence where other authors might play it safe to maintain appeal and generate broader sales (eg: first chapter of Not Meeting Mr Right, main character despises old school rival for ignoring her children by being obsessed with work -this is a touchy, highly contentious debate, the whole working women v stay at home mums -I loved that she wasn’t afraid to go there). Anita Heiss speaks her mind and she writes fearlessly. And I told her that when I met her a few weeks ago but she was puzzled/amused by my compliment because in her mind, why wouldn’t anybody say what they mean? Indeed! She is an empowered, highly intelligent, highly educated indigenous woman who hasn’t squandered her literacy like I, whitest woman in the world, have thus far done (need to write a ground-breaking novel, need to make a difference NOW!). Every person, every child deserves literacy as a basic right and we could all, brown and white alike, take heed of Anita’s example: if you have literacy, use it; if you have opinions, share them, act on them.

KateBellex's picture

Amen to that, Kate. x

Kim Scott

In past 3 months I’ve read Nicole Watson’s The Boundary, Melissa Lucaschenko’s Too Flash & Fiona Wirrer-George Oochunyun’s Double Native – all great books.

Sam Watson (he Kadaitcha Sung) – a complicated, deep novel that leaves lasting impression after putting the book down.

KateBellex's picture

It’s going on my list. Thanks.

Thank you Kate!

I enjoyed Ambelin Kwaymullina’s debut novel (she’s done short children’s books but this is her first novel) “The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf”. Solid YA dystopia with an Aussie flavour.

KateBellex's picture

another new one for me! thank you!

I just bought this book. Really looking forward to reading it 

KateBellex's picture

Hope you enjoy it Michelle!

That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott – Poetic tone to his writing and an interesting read.

That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott. Listened to it on audio as well – very well read.

KateBellex's picture

Thanks! It’s looming every higher in my to read pile.

I adore reading the poetry of Samuel Wagan Watson and Oodgeroo Noonuccal as well as the novels of Kim Scott

KateBellex's picture

Oodgeroo is one of my favourites too. A couple of years ago I discovered a loot of wonderful Aboriginal books in our local annual Oxfam book sale, some signed. I picked up a book of hers among them. I feel very privileged to have the on my shelves.

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