TABOO, by Kim Scott, Picador.
Double Miles Franklinwinner Kim Scott’s latest novel imagines a modern reconciliation of an ancient injury, involving poisoned – or taboo – land in his ancestral country of the Noongar, in WA. Aborigines were murdered here after they killed a white farmer in revenge for stealing one of their women. A group of white settlers now plan a Peace Park on the massacre site, and invite descendants of those murdered to join them for the ceremony. This motley group includes two brothers and a young Aboriginal woman, who makes the long journey to the place she was raised despite deep, terrible memories of being vilely abused – literally, treated like a dog – in a nearby farmhouse. It is a dark story, but Scott is such an elegant and evocative writer he finds grace – and surprisingly, real humour – in the whole strange business.