After being immersed in writing Paris Savages over the last six years, I crave lying back and reading books by other authors over the holidays. At the top of my list are two books I gave to my husband, one for last Christmas and the other for his birthday. The first is Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, which I have read parts of and long to sit down with and properly read from cover to cover. I first heard of this book when Bruce Pascoe was interviewed on Radio National (Conversations) about a large group (350 individuals) of Aboriginal people in the central Australian desert growing and grinding grains from which they made cake, which they served with roast duck to the near starved party of the explorer Charles Sturt. Pascoe writes that Aboriginal Australians were the first bakers in the world, and they were Aboriginal women. The book challenges the ‘hunter gatherer’ stereotype and replaces it with one of villages, an organised economy, of sophisticated cultivation, engineering, dwellings and irrigation systems. My husband absolutely loved Dark Emu and says every Australian should read it.
Next on my list is Tyson Yunkaporta’s Sand Talk, which describes applying indigenous ways of thinking in everyday life – and how indigenous thinking can save the world. With the very real threat of climate change, I think we need to look outside the current western mindset to solutions for our precious planet.
I’m also looking forward to reading Favel Parrett’s There was Still Love, which I read an extract from in Island magazine some months ago, and loved. It’s about grandmothers and love, about women holding families together and racism towards migrants to Australia. There are, I suspect, some resonances with my last novel, Matryoshka. The images I read in that extract of a young girl and her love for her grandmother have stuck in my mind. Beautiful.
And then there’s Bruny, by Heather Rose. I spend a lot of time on Bruny, and on boats around it, and for me this one’s a must.
About the author:
Katherine Johnson is the author of three previous novels: Pescador’s Wake (Fourth Estate, 2009), The Better Son (Ventura Press, 2016) and Matryoshka (Ventura Press, 2018). Her manuscripts have won Varuna Awards and Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prizes. The Better Son was longlisted for both the Indie Book Awards and the Tasmania Book Prize. Katherine holds both arts and science degrees, has worked as a science journalist, and published feature articles for magazines including Good Weekend. Katherine lives in Tasmania with her husband and two children. She recently completed a PhD, which forms the basis of her latest novel, Paris Savages.