Interview with Anne Brewster, author of “Giving this Country a Memory: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices of Australia”

Cambria Press Publication academic publisher author monograph
Cambria Press Publication – Giving This Country A Memory: Contemporary Aboriginal Voices of Australia by Anne Brewster is part of the Cambria Australian Literature Series headed by Susan Lever (Australian National University).

Why did you decide to write this book?

Anne Brewster: With my book Giving This Country A Memory, I wanted to introduce readers to a range of Aboriginal writers, some of whom they not have heard about. The book has introductory chapters on seven writers, several of whom are well established and have high profiles, such as Doris Pilkington Garimara, Kim Scott and Melissa Lucashenko. It also represents up and coming writers such as Romaine Moreton, Marie Munkara, Jeanine Leane and Alf Taylor. I wanted to include the voices of the Aboriginal writers talking about themselves and their work, so I decided to interview each of them. In this way they have participated in the evolution of the research I have done on their work. I felt this was very important as I wanted to avoid writing about their work as if they were not present in the discussion. I have learned a great deal from my long conversations with these writers who very generously gave of their time to talk to me and I wanted to share this very important knowledge with other people who may not be luck enough to have the opportunity to talk personally with them.

What do you hope your readers take away from your book?

Anne Brewster: I would like them to take a way a sense of the richness and variety of contemporary Aboriginal literature. Writers like Doris Pilkington Garimara talk about their removal from their families as children and the very slow and painful process of reconnecting with their families and healing. Others like Marie Munkara and Alf Taylor have a strong sense of humour which has enabled them to cope with trauma in their lives. All of these writers celebrate the strength and resilience of Aboriginal culture – its spirituality, its profound knowledges and its sovereignty.

What other research do you believe is needed on this topic?

Anne Brewster: The work of all of these writers, especially the emerging writers, warrants further analysis and discussion. It raises many important issues about Australia’s colonial history and about whiteness, for example, as well as issues relating to Aboriginal people and their culture. Alf Taylor is one of the first Aboriginal people to write about the Spanish Benedictine New Norcia Mission in Western Australia just as Marie Munkara has written in her fiction about the Bathurst Island Mission. The poetry and the interviews with of Romaine Moreton and Jeanine Leane give us insight into the histories of their families as well as the issues facing younger Aboriginal people today.

Join Dr. Anne Brewster and Dr. Larissa Behrendt for the book launch at GleeBooks on Saturday (December 5, 2015)!