I read so many good books in August (ten in fact) that I am finding difficult to decide on favourites to include in this post. I’ve narrowed it down to five.
Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko
Last month, my fiction favourite was also Melissa Lucashenko’s novel Mullumbimby. This month it’s her new offering (only released in July this year). Too Much Lip is a much grittier novel than the former, dealing with some fairly difficult themes including crime, incarceration, sexual abuse, and so on.
The characters are all too real, people who are far from perfect and are just trying to survive. Sadly, the difficulties faced by the characters are similar to those faced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. This book provides an important insight into their struggles, all the while highlighting their resilience and strength in the face of adversity.
Much like Mullumbimby, Too Much Lip was really hard to put down and a pleasure to read.
Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
This is also a very new release and was also really hard to put down. The novel is partially based on the author’s own life, something which is startling when you consider the book’s content. The narrator is a young boy whose has a missing father; a drug-addicted, troubled mother; a heroin-dealing step-father; a notorious criminal as a baby-sitter; and a brother who doesn’t talk, but instead writes his thoughts in the air with his finger.
The book is totally compelling and I highly recommend it, so long as you’re not afraid to read a book that contains some fairly graphic violence.
The Power of Hope by Kon Karapanagiotidis
Again, this was a book which I found very hard to put down, finishing it within two days. Kon Karapanagiotidis is the founder of Melbourne’s Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, an incredible facility which has provided a range of vital services to asylum seekers since 2001.
Kon’s book is indeed full of hope, but he doesn’t shy away from the personal challenges he has faced nor the political and moral challenges we face in Australia and indeed the world.
The Choice by Edith Eger
This book has been compared with Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, a book with which it certainly shares many similarities. Like Frankl, Eger survived the Holocaust, however she was much younger than him at the time. When her and her fellow prisoners were liberated, she was close to dying. It took her numerous years for her to recover from the trauma, both physical and psychological, of her experiences. Nonetheless, she did, and became a world-renowned psychologist who has used her personal experiences and professional knowledge to help thousands.
My Place by Sally Morgan
The final book – sorry for the long list – is a memoir considered an Australian classic. My Place is about Morgan’s life experiences and her journey to understanding her family history and culture. This leads her to explore issues such as the attempted assimilation of Aboriginal people into white Australian society through the institutionalisation of children; the rape of Aboriginal women by white men, often leading to pregnancy; the years of labour done by Aboriginal men and women on stations and properties without adequate, if any, remuneration; and much more.
It is indeed a wonderful book which deserves its title as an Australian classic. It should probably be compulsory reading for all Australians.
I’ve really been enjoying the Speaking Out podcast which is hosted by Professor Larissa Behrendt, a Gamilaroi/Eualeyai woman who is the Chair of Indigenous Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney.
There are two segments I listened to recently which I highly recommend. The first, Stolen Generations Demographics, was an interview with the Healing Foundation’s Russell Taylor following the release of a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which details the impacts of the Stolen Generations not only on those who were taken from their families but also their descendants. The statistics paint a stark picture which you can get a snapshot of in this summary on the Healing Foundation website.
The second, The Case for Native Title Reform, was an interview with barrister Tony McAvoy who in 2015 became the first Aboriginal person appointed to the position of Senior Counsel. He is an expert on native title, so the interview provides some valuable insights into some of the key issues with the current native title legislation.
There have been a couple of fantastic episodes so far in this series of Anh’s Brush With Fame. The first was Anh’s interview with Adam Goodes, a retired Indigenous football player who won two Brownlow medals (the AFL’s highest honour) and was named Australian of the Year in 2014 after standing up against racism. The second was an interview with Dr Munjed Al Muderis, a man who arrived in Australia by boat after fleeing Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and is now a pioneering orthopaedic surgeon.
My Birthday cake was delicious – a cinnamony apple and almond cake made by mum.
Hunger by Florence + The Machine
Florence has a new album, it’s great just like all the ones before it, and this is a lovely song off the new album.
Despite at times feeling unable to get out of bed and face the world, you’re still here, still going, fighting and using every ounce of your energy to appear normal. This is resilience. Your ability to survive and thrive against the odds is your resilience.
– Kon Karapanagiotidis
Love, hope and peace from Emma.