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We Come With This Place

2023 - Shortlisted


Judges' Comments

We Come With This Place is a vibrant personal story of the strength of Dank’s extended family, their joy in caring for Country and their generosity in sharing their rich cultural knowledge. The memoir traces multiple generations of Dank’s Gudanji and Wakaja families tracking their experiences of dispossession, institutional and administrative abuse, and economic discrimination as well as their joy and love in friends, family and colleagues. As the title suggests, We Come With This Place evokes a strong sense of place, and love of Country is palpable. Many memorable characters emerge from the pages of the book, interacting with land, water and bush, even as farmers and graziers encroach further into their land. Debra Dank’s book achieves a great emotional depth as we follow the trials, tragedies, and triumphs of her people as they refuse to surrender to racism, discrimination and sometimes brutal violence. 

Dank has freed her narrative from rigid chronology, allowing the story to move across time to foreground place and people. The writing is lyrical and poetic — Dank is a powerful storyteller with a unique voice.