books

12 books by Indigenous authors you should read next.

We're in the middle of NAIDOC week - a time to learn more about about the First Nations people who have inhabited this country for over 65,000 years.

NAIDOC week, which occurs every July, is a chance to increase awareness of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, as well as celebrate their culture and achievements. 

Below, we've collated 12 books, written by Indigenous Australians, that delve deep into First Nations culture through various genres, including fiction, poetry and non-fiction. They're perfect for your next read. 

1. The White Girl by Tony Birch.

The White Girl by Tony Birch. Image: Booktopia.  

Genre: Fiction

Book's synopsis: "Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. Raising her granddaughter Sissy on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing Aboriginal children from their communities. When the menacing Sergeant Lowe arrives in town, determined to fully enforce the law, any freedom that Odette and Sissy enjoy comes under grave threat. Odette must make an impossible choice to protect her family. In The White Girl, Tony Birch has created memorable characters whose capacity for love and courage are a timely reminder of the endurance of the human spirit."

Available: Here

2. Fire Country by Victor Steffensen.

Fire Country by Victor Steffensen. Image: Booktopia.  

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Genre: Non-fiction

Book's synopsis: "Delving deep into the Australian landscape and the environmental challenges we face, Fire Country is a powerful account from Indigenous land management expert Victor Steffensen on how the revival of cultural burning practices, and improved 'reading' of country, could help to restore our land."

Available: Here.

3. Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko.

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko. Image: Booktopia.  

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Genre: Fiction

Book's synopsis: "Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things - her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying, and she's an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley.

Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble - but then trouble is Kerry's middle name."

Available: Here.

4. Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta.

Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta. Image: Supplied.  

Genre: Non-fiction

Book's synopsis: "What happens when global systems are viewed from an Indigenous perspective? How does it affect the way we see history, money, power and learning? Could it change the world? This remarkable book is about everything from echidnas to evolution, cosmology to cooking, sex and science and spirits to Schrodinger's cat.

Tyson Yunkaporta looks at global systems from an Indigenous perspective. He asks how contemporary life diverges from the pattern of creation. How does this affect us? How can we do things differently?"

Available: Here.

5. Blakwork by Alison Whittaker.

Blakwork by Alison Whittaker. Image: Booktopia. 

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Genre: Poetry

Book's synopsis: "A stunning mix of memoir, reportage, fiction, satire, and critique composed by a powerful new voice in poetry. Alison Whittaker’s Blakwork is an original and unapologetic collection from which two things emerge; an incomprehensible loss, and the poet’s fearless examination of the present.

Whittaker is unsparing in the interrogation of familiar ideas – identifying and dissolving them with idiosyncratic imagery, layering them to form new connections, and reinterpreting what we know."

Available: Here.

6. Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe.

Blakwork by Alison Whittaker. Image: Booktopia.  

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Genre: Non-fiction

Book's synopsis: "Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating, and storing — behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag."

Available: Here.

7. The Yield by Tara June Winch.

The Yield by Tara June Winch. Image: Supplied.  

Genre: Fiction

Book's synopsis: "Knowing that he will soon die, Albert 'Poppy' Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind.

August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for 10 years when she learns of her grandfather's death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land - a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river."

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Available: Here.

8. Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss.

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss. Image: Booktopia. 

Genre: Non-fiction

Book's synopsis: "What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia? This anthology, compiled by award-winning author Anita Heiss, showcases many diverse voices, experiences and stories in order to answer that question.

Accounts from well-known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside those from newly discovered writers of all ages. All of the contributors speak from the heart – sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect."

Available: Here.

9. Finding the Heart of the Nation by Thomas Mayor.

Finding the Heart of the Nation by Thomas Mayor. Image: Booktopia.  

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Genre: Non-fiction

Book's synopsis: "Since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was formed in 2017, Thomas Mayor has traveled around the country to promote its vision of a better future for Indigenous Australians. He’s visited communities big and small, often with the Uluru Statement canvas rolled up in a tube under his arm. Through the story of his own journey and interviews with 20 key people, Thomas taps into a deep sense of our shared humanity. The voices within these chapters make clear what the Uluru Statement is and why it is so important. And Thomas hopes you will be moved to join them, along with the growing movement of Australians who want to see substantive constitutional change. Thomas believes that we will only find the heart of our nation when the First peoples – the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – are recognised with a representative Voice enshrined in the Australian Constitution."

Available: Here.

10. Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman.

Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman. Image: Booktopia.  

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Genre: Fiction

Book's synopsis: "The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to have a nation of peace, and to bring the savages into line. Families are torn apart, reeducation is enforced. This rich land will provide for all.

This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history. This Terra Nullius is something new, but all too familiar."

Available: Here.

11. Throat by Ellen Van Neervan.

Throat by Ellen Van Neervan. Image: Booktopia.  

Genre: Poetry

Book's synopsis: "Throat is the explosive second poetry collection from award-winning Mununjali Yugambeh writer Ellen van Neerven. Exploring love, language and land, van Neerven flexes their distinctive muscles and shines a light on Australia's unreconciled past and precarious present with humour and heart. Van Neerven is unsparing in the interrogation of colonial impulse, and fiercely loyal to telling the stories that make us who we are."

Available: Here.

12. Inside My Mother by Ali Cobby Eckermann.

Inside My Mother by Ali Cobby Eckermann. Image: Booktopia.  

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Genre: Poetry

Book's synopsis: "Ali Cobby Eckermann, a Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha poet, is at the forefront of Australian Indigenous poetry. Inside My Mother is both a political and personal collection, angry and tender, propelled by the need to remember yet brimming with energy and vitality - qualities that distinguished her previous, prize-winning verse novel, Ruby Moonlight."

Available: Here.

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