Winner of the Miles Franklin Award 2011. Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.
But slowly by design and by accident things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: He must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...
Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for the South East Asia and Pacific Region.
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"An enchanting and authentic book, giving us an insider's view of Australia before it was Australia... Enormously readable, humane, proud, and subtle." - Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's Ark, The Great Shame, and A Commonwealth of Thieves
"That Deadman Dance is a novel to read, recite, and reread, to linger over as Scott peels back layer after layer of meaning... Exhilarating." - Sydney Morning Herald
"The novel's closing anti-rhetoric is honorable but familiar." - Kirkus Reviews
"Short, titled chapters group into four parts demarcated by sweeps of nonlinear time, from two years to four. Always piquant and lyrical, with some Aboriginal dialect words translated and some not, Scott is at his most picturesque when Bobby assists the whalers, bringing boom times to 'blackfellas' and 'whitefellas' alike." - Publishers Weekly
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Kim Scott was born in 1957 to a white mother and Aboriginal father. His first novel, True Country, was published in 1993. His second, Benang: From the Heart, won the 2000 Miles Franklin Award and the Western Australia Premier's Book Award. He has also published short stories and poetry. Scott currently lives in Western Australia with his wife and two children.
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