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Taboo by Kim Scott
Kim Scott crafts a masterful tale drawing on the fraught process of reconciliation and the complexities of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians’ relationship to the land. Taboo is set in Scott’s own Noongar country in south-western WA, where memories of massacre still haunt both black and white. Though suffused with violence of many kinds, this highly original novel also celebrates courage, resilience and the healing power of language, particularly that of the Noongar people.
Scott’s apparently effortless shifts in style and genre make for a dizzying, exhilarating ride. In an afterword, the author describes the book as ‘a trippy, stumbling sort of genre-hop’ with ‘a trace of Fairy Tale, a touch of Gothic, a sufficiency of the ubiquitous Social Realism and perhaps a tease of the Creation Story’. Through its skilful use of these diverse forms, the book casts new light on the taboos that still surround telling the truth about Australian history and what critic Melissa Lucashenko has called the ‘strange, often awkward work of decolonisation’.