Recommendation: For Australians, very much so
Where to read: Take this to a park on a nice day
Read with: Starward Nova whisky
In brief: Part memoir, part lament and part call to arms, this is beautifully written and more than worth reading.
Written in the wake of the Adam Goodes booing scandal, also the subject of The Final Quarter and Grant’s own The Australian Dream, Grant’s work is still deeply relevant (unfortunately). It is part memoir and part meditation on Australian history, as well as a profoundly personal exploration of the experience of being Indigenous, both in Australia and away from it.
But this is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth.
The “wealth for toil” we praise in our anthem has remained out of our reach. Our position at the bottom of every socio-economic indicator tragically belies the Australian economic miracle.
“Australians all let us rejoice” can ring hollow to us. Ours is more troubled patriotism. Our allegiance to Australia, our pride in this country undercut by the dark realities of our existence.
Unsurprisingly, it is brilliantly written – Grant is tremendously articulate anyway but this is, I suspect, heightened by the personal subject matter and the opportunity to write more lyrically than he would normally as a journalist.
There are many things to take from this, but if nothing else it is worth dwelling on the extent to which the genocide of Indigenous people is still woven into the fabric of the landscape and modern Australia, from Poison Waterholes Creek on Grant’s ancestral land to the continuing disparity in life expectancy and youth imprisonment – the trauma of colonisation is ongoing, and no mere relic of the distant past.
You can read an extract here.