Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany
Mateship with Birds is an account of the shy, cautious courtship between Harry, a lonely dairy farmer, and Betty, a bruised single mother with two children. Harry and Betty live in a country town where human beings and animals share the same space; Harry knows a great deal more about the sex lives of his dairy cows than he knows about women.
The down-to-earth picture of rural life — realistic in its wealth of detail and without sentimentality — is infused with subdued humour and rendered in plain but graceful prose which occasionally ascends to poetry. Mateship with Birds is a beautifully crafted book and a joy to read.
That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott
|Set on the West Australian coast at the start of the nineteenth century, That Deadman Dance is a story of early encounter between Noongar people and European settlers. At the heart of the novel is the charming, ebulient Bobby Wabalinginy, a Noongar man who forms friendships with the new arrivals until tensions begin to escalate between the two nations and Bobby is forced to choose between two worlds. Peopled with a broad cast of compelling, complex characters, That Deadman Dance is a work of astounding beauty.
Compassionate and lush, this is a novel which unsettles and displaces the reader even while seducing them. Full of sensory descriptions, Scott calls up the landscape of pre-European Australia, creating a rich novelistic world. Shifting in form and in language, often with the feel of song, That Deadman Dance is a stunning interplay of form and content. In Bobby, Scott has brought to the page a man of wit and playfulness, an engaging, compelling character — flawed, but flawlessly drawn.
At once epic and elegiac, That Deadman Dance is a playful dance of language, of character, of culture. Working within a broadly realist form, Scott nonetheless creates a work with the resonance of myth and the lyricism of poetry. Moving across perspectives and points of view, Kim Scott invites readers to immerse themselves in a world that is both alien and familiar, and to emerge from it utterly changed. That Deadman Dance is a masterful novel of extraordinary vision.