These days the release of a new Kim Scott novel feels like a literary event. It wasn’t always this way. His first two books, True Country (1993) and Benang (1999), established him more as a writer’s writer: a brilliant, if raw, voice calling to us from across the Nullarbor. But with his previous book, the gobsmacking Dance (2010), Scott announced himself as the country’s most important novelist.
It was a book that took a fresh look at Australia’s past. We had the typical scenes of first contact as white settlers arrived in Albany and began to alienate Aboriginal land, yet in Scott’s telling this didn’t devolve into violence.
The relationship between settlers and the local Noongar is much more akin to an exchange than a rivalry and the violence is forestalled by a mutual desire to understand.
Scott has twice won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, first for Benang and then for That Deadman Dance. With his desire to move beyond the polemics of postcolonial history, and the generosity of his outlook, he has enlarged Taboo By Kim Scott Picador, 287pp, $32.99