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True Country (1993)

– tekijä: Kim Scott

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut / Maininnat
454456,411 (3.8)1 / 4
Examining ideas of belonging and being an outsider, this story follows Billy, a young school teacher and drifter who arrives in Australia's remote far north in search of his past, his Aboriginal roots, and his future. Through masterful language and metaphor, as well as a sophisticated tone that is both subtle and spirited, the novel finds Billy in a region not only of abundance and beauty but also of conflict, dispossession, and dislocation. On the frontier between cultures, Billy must find where he belongs in what is ultimately a powerful portrayal of the discovery of self and a sensitive exploration of race and culture.… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 4/4
Read 2015. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 12, 2020 |
True Country, Kim Scott’s debut novel first published in 1993, has been on my TBR for ages, so I was happy to join a readalong with Emma at Book Around the Corner. But unlike Kim at Reading Matters, I did not love this book. It is powerful writing, and innovative in design and intent, but it is also deeply depressing because it paints such a vivid picture of the dysfunctional behaviours that we are told still plague indigenous communities today.
True Country is a kind of bildungsroman, but one that has been creatively adapted to serve a new purpose. The central character, Billy Storey, does not ‘go out into the wider world’ in search of the self, becoming educated in the ways of the world while the reader looks on. Billy’s search for identity takes him out of the White world that he knows, to the intimate world of a (fictional) remote northern Australian indigenous community, where everything that he already knows does not apply. His confused identity, shaped by more than two centuries of assimilationist policies and family denial, is confronted by the confident assertion of identity from the local indigenous people, who know who they are even though their culture is changing. So while Billy is there ostensibly to teach at the school, what actually happens is that the teacher finds himself being taught – learning a whole new culture and lifestyle, along with different values and ways of behaving. He learns a history more ancient than any he was familiar with, and he learns in ways that are unconventional in westernised societies. He is on a challenging learning journey, and the text brings the reader along with Billy to learn about Aboriginality at the same time. (It’s important to note that although there were increasing numbers of indigenous memoirs, there were not many novels written by indigenous authors at that time in the late 20th century).
In the beginning, Billy and his wife Liz identify with and are identified as Whites, differentiated by their education, their jobs, their clothes, by having air-conditioning in the house and easy access to a cool beer after work, and most of all by their prospects. The respect they are shown is also differentiated: the other Whites treat them with the same professional respect they reserve for themselves, while the indigenous people (mostly) treat them with a kind of amused tolerance for their lack of understanding and ignorance about the community’s heritage and lifestyle. But there are also instances of behaviour towards Billy and Liz that most Australians would consider disrespectful – such as having their home invaded by a horde of kids and their clothes and possessions used and ‘borrowed’. But this is not considered disrespectful by some members of the indigenous community, while other mission-educated Aborigines are furious about it. This is indicative both of a shift in cultural values from communal ownership to the idea of private property, but also confusion about Billy’s identity. Billy has the money to buy a boat and if he’s a whitefella, he isn’t obliged by kinship rules to share it. But if he ‘belongs’, then he should be willing to lend it to anyone who asks. The position of his wife (who the reader assumes to be White) is subsumed in Billy’s, as far as the community is concerned).
This portrait of comparative privilege shifts, as Billy falls in love with the land, enjoys aspects of living off the land such as fishing, and finds himself captivated by the stories of an Elder called Fatima. About half way through the book this change is signalled by two events…

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/01/29/true-country-by-kim-scott-bookreview/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jan 28, 2018 |
A wonderfully crafted novel about a young man, of Indigenous and European descent, who teaches in a tiny community on the northern coast of Australia.

In his first novel, Kim Scott tells a gentle story of Billy who, with his red-headed wife, goes to teach in a tiny isolated community of Indigenous Australians in the Kimberly region. In different chapters and clusters of chapters, Scott tells the stories of those who lived there. We get to know both blacks and whites, none of them without their own particular flaws. There is little overall plot. Those living in the declining community—and those who live there wonder if it is still a community---have little to sustain them or give them hope. The conditions have the ingredients to be a tragedy, yet Scott lightens his book with the joys of swimming in the river and fishing along the edge of the ocean.

Read more on my blog, Me, you and books: http://wp.me/p24OK2-QN
  mdbrady | Aug 12, 2013 |
A book to be recommended to all! Having studied it as part of English Literature in Secondary School, I feel that the book certainly deserves literary credit. Composed in varying voices, the novel details the experiences of a part Nyoongar school teacher's experiences in a remote Aboriginal settlement as he tries to understand his own heritage, culture and identity.

This is a moving and brilliant introduction to aboriginal heritage and culture as it transcends the boundaries of white Western Australian society (typified by Neighbours, bikinis and surfing). From the voice of Kim Scott's own personal voice, fictionalised into this account, we are both welcomed and asked to explore the book's social construct by questioning the underlying assumptions of idealistic society; we are asked to reconsider our belief in the role of education, health and living conditions as we explore the intriguing and alternative world of Aboriginal culture and ideals.

I cannot think of a more thought-provoking book relating to aboriginal rights, particularly as it does not seem to be proposing any real opposition but reconstructing the plight of Aboriginal people in Australia as it stands. Aboriginal people are not depicted as perfect (as the characters in the novel continue to struggle with alcohol abuse, domestic violence and poverty) but neither are the non-Aboriginal people.

A profoundly moving novel, recommended to everyone. ( )
  Nysh | Apr 5, 2008 |
näyttää 4/4
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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Examining ideas of belonging and being an outsider, this story follows Billy, a young school teacher and drifter who arrives in Australia's remote far north in search of his past, his Aboriginal roots, and his future. Through masterful language and metaphor, as well as a sophisticated tone that is both subtle and spirited, the novel finds Billy in a region not only of abundance and beauty but also of conflict, dispossession, and dislocation. On the frontier between cultures, Billy must find where he belongs in what is ultimately a powerful portrayal of the discovery of self and a sensitive exploration of race and culture.

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