Review by: Sarah Derrig
“I was born on Ngurambang — can you hear it? — Ngu-ram-bang. If you say it right it hits the back of your mouth and you should taste blood in your words. Every person around should learn the word for country in the old language, the first language — because that is the way to all time, to time travel! You can go all the way back.”
The Yield by Tara June Winch
Synopsis from the Publisher:
Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind.
August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavors to save their land – a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river.
This masterpiece of a novel blends three different narratives, told three different ways, of place, history of Australia’s First Nations people, and an intimate look at family and the people and land they lose. It’s a story of heritage and identity.
Winch uses language that is lyrical and poetic but, most importantly, includes the language of the Wiradjuri people, the language of her people. In Wiradjuri the word for “yield” is baayanha. But as the reader learns throughout this book, translation is far from simple. “Yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land, the thing he’s waited for and gets to claim,” Poppy Gondiwindi writes. In Wiradjuri, “it’s the things you give to, the movement, the space between things’ ‘. This is a novel full of the spaces in between.
The Yield is suitable for readers aged 15+. Whilst there are moments of violence the story is also one of tenderness and enables young readers to understand the importance of Australia’s history, Indigenous language and the sorrow of dispossession.
The Yield is a stunning read and an important novel which tells the harsh truth and history of Australia’s First Nations people — a history that has often been glossed over and yet is a dark history of pain and loss. There are many layers to Tara June Winch’s novel that are intricate and profoundly moving. This novel will deepen and expand your understanding of Australia’s Indigenous people.
- Miles Franklin Literary Award 2020
- Book of the Year, People’s Choice, and the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction: NSW Premier’s Literary Award 2020
- Australian Bookseller’s Choice Fiction Book 2020
- The Voss Literary Prize 2020
- Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction 2020
- Kate Challis RAKA Award for Literature 2021
- Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature: Fiction and the Premier’s Award 2022
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia, 2021
You can purchase this book here.
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About the author
Tara June Winch
Tara June Winch is an Australian (Wiradjuri) writer based in France. She was named as one of The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Best Young Australian Novelists for her first novel, Swallow the Air. She has gone on to win numerous Australian literary awards, and in 2009 she received the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Award.
Reviewer: Sarah Derrig
Sarah Derrig is an Australian High School Librarian who returned home to Australia in 2020 after 13 years living as an expat in the Middle East. An avid traveler and reader, Sarah has a new found love of crime books and loves a gritty true crime podcast. Sarah lives in Melbourne with her husband and teenage daughter and is the Head of Libraries at Emmanuel College.
Curator of the second #IntlYALitMonth at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative:
Linda Hoiseth is the high school librarian at the American School of Dubai and has previously worked at schools in the US, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Poland, Peru, Qatar (where she worked with Sarah Derrig), and India. She has a B.S. in English and Secondary Education, an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, and a graduate certificate in School Library Media. Linda is an IB workshop leader and a member of the ECIS Libraries Special Interest Group. She’s a fierce advocate for all students to have access to all the books. Follow her on Twitter.