"Harley, a man of Nyoongar ancestry, finds himself at a difficult point in the history of his country, family and self. As the apparently successful outcome of his white grandfather's enthusiastic attempts to isolate and breed the 'first whiteman born', he wants to be a failure. But would such failure mean his Nyoongar ancestors could label him a success? And how can the attempted genocide represnted by his family history be told?
"Oceanic in its rhythms and understanding, brilliant in its use of language of spirit, compelling in its narrative scope and style, Benang is a novel of celebration and lament, of beginning and return, of obliteration and recovery, of silencing and of powerful utterance. Both tentative and daring, it speaks to the present and a possible future through stories, dreams, rhythms, songs, images and documents mobilised from the incompletely acknowledged and still dynamic past."
"With quiet clarity and broad resonance, Benang plunges its readers into the emotional and historical truths of 'half-caste' Australia. This is a work of deep, disturbing and dangerous necessity." - Carmel Bird
"Kim Scott...uses a cool, almost matter-of-fact style to brilliantly render a form of white madness that ravaged the Australian continent in the disguise of Reason." - Amanda Lohrey
I know I make people uncomfortable, and embarrass even those who come to hear me sing. I regret that, but not how all the talk and nervous laughter fades as I rise from the ground and, hovering in the campfire smoke, slowly turn to consider this small circle of which I am the centre.
We feel it then, we share the silence.
Of course, nothing can stop a persistent and desparate cynic from occasionally shouting, 'Look, rotisserie!' or, 'Spit roast!' But no cynicism remains once I begin to sing.
From the Fremantle Arts Centre Press paperback edition, 2000.
This novel won the Miles Franklin Award in 2000.
About the Author:
Kim Scott is a descendant of people who have always lived along the south-east coast of Western Australia and is glad to be living in times when it is possible to explore the significance of that fact and be one among those who call themselves Nyoongar.
Kim Scott began writing for publication shortly after he became a secondary teacher of English. His first novel, True Country, was published in 1993 and he has had poetry and short stories published in a range of anthologies.
In recent times he has received grants from the Literature Board of the Australia Council and the Western Australian Department for the Arts to enable him to devote more time to writing. He lives in Coolbellup, a southern suburb of Perth, Western Australia, with his wife and children.
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Last modified: January 30, 2006.