Melissa Lucashenko – a celebration

Something a bit different this month—not an individual book, but a tribute to the latest winner of the Miles Franklin Award: Melissa Lucashenko. The winning book was Too Much Lip (reviewed last year in The Triangle and now in the Bega Valley library.) It was my favourite book for 2018. I also loved her first novel, Mullumbimby, also reviewed earlier and in the library. She is one of many emerging Indigenous writers whose strength is her amazing ability to tell stories about families, about the importance of belonging and the critical nature of place—obviously from her point of view as an Indigenous woman, but in such a way that anyone can recognise the complexities of family life.

By being acknowledged through the Miles Franklin, she takes her rightful place as a leading Australian writer. She also acts a role model and mentor to other Indigenous writers and has earned her place at the centre of literary debate at a national level. The popularity of her books acts as an inspiration for publishers to be confident in backingIndigenous writers—many of whom are now occupying places amongst the best sellers: Bruce Pascoe, Tony Birch, Claire Coleman, Anita Heiss to name a few. In her own words, Lucashenko writes:

If we can just hold the line, wrest back some control over the stories told about us, and replace them with our own, then we can exert power too. We can shape the idea of what it means to be Aboriginal. [We need] to pay attention to what’s going on, to talk straight about our lives, and remember to celebrate our beauty, our humour, our power, and most of all our land.

As non-Indigenous people struggle to find ways of supporting justice for Indigenous people, we could start easily by reading and discussing the wonderful literature which is readily available to us in our local library. Better still, buy her books and those of other Indigenous writers for Christmas presents!