2020 - Winner
The Yield is a ground-breaking and wholly original work of fiction by one of our most exciting contemporary writers. Winch plays with form, shape, style, perspective and point of view in order to conjure three very distinct voices that speak to the past, present and future of our nation: Albert Gondiwindi, his granddaughter August and the nineteenth-century missionary Reverend Greenleaf.
Albert’s story is told in the form of a dictionary he writes, a dictionary which reclaims his own history and the language and stories of Indigenous people on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. After her grandfather passes away, August returns home and is compelled to confront a painful familial and colonial history from which she had taken flight. These two stories are threaded through with the Reverend’s anguished letters, letters that chart his paternalistic ambitions, the violence he witnesses against the Indigenous people and the complexity of being both an agent of colonialism and someone trying to do the right thing.
The Yield makes a powerful argument about the urgency of revitalising Indigenous language. It shows how stories, whether personal or national, can be embedded in a single word and how much we risk losing when we don’t know what those words are any more. It shows how language is a lens through which we can understand the story of a people and culture dispossessed while simultaneously celebrating what can and does endure.