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Writing Culture: Q&A with PM Literary Awards Shortlisted Author Kim Scott

November 30, 2018

1. Taboo tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar’s descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. What inspired you to write this novel?

My extended family, our history, the work of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories group. The desire to suggest something of the importance of the relationship between cultural heritage and community development.

2. What were the greatest challenges you encountered when writing Taboo?

Expressing hope despite some of the legacy of shared history, and signaling the possibility of transformation.

3. Your works are often described as possessing magical realist qualities, and this is certainly true of your latest work, Why do you choose to incorporate these elements into your writing?

They seem necessary as part of expressing some of the dimensions of reality as I understand it, and which are difficult to articulate from within the constraints of social realism.

4. In Taboo, the narrative voice continually shifts perspective. Was this an intentional technique, or the natural progression of the story?

It’s intentional, as part of suggesting spirit – or spirits – in a landscape and place, as well as some presence other than the here and now and our poor impoverished selves.

5. You are a multi-award winning novelist, having previously won the Miles Franklin Literary Award (twice, for two separate titles) and the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal. What does being shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards mean to you?

It means reassurance. Affirmation. It means more readers and thus more connection.

About the author:

Kim Scott is a multi-award winning novelist. Benang was the first novel by an Indigenous writer to win the Miles Franklin Award and in 2011 That Deadman Dance also won the Miles Franklin Award, among many other honours. Proud to be one among those who call themselves Noongar, Scott is founder and chair of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Story Project, which has published a number of bilingual picture books. He received an Australian Centenary Medal and was 2012 West Australian of the Year. He is currently Professor of Writing in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University.


Winners of the 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards will be announced on the 5th of December 2018. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and website for winner updates and author interviews.

You can also join the conversation by using the hashtag #PMLitAwards, and you can read the full list of shortlisted titles here.


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