Too Much Lip

By Melissa Lucashenko UQP

Too much lip, her old problem from way back. And the older she got, the harder it seemed to get to swallow her opinions. The avalanche of bullshit in the world would drown her if she let it; the least she could do was raise her voice in anger.

Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things – her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley.

Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people. Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble – but then trouble is Kerry’s middle name.

Melissa Lucashenko

Melissa Lucashenko is a multi-award winning Goorie writer. Her 2013 novel Mullumbimby was awarded the Deloitte Queensland Literary Award for Fiction, won the Victorian Premiers Prize for Indigenous Writing, and was longlisted for both the Stella Prize and Miles Franklin awards as well as the Dublin IMPAC Literary Prize. Melissa was awarded the 2016 CAL Fellowship to work on Too Much Lip.

Melissa is a Walkley Award winner for her non-fiction, as well as a founding member of the prisoner’s human rights group, Sisters Inside. She writes passionately about ordinary people and the extraordinary lives they lead.

Judges' report

Too Much Lip is a fearless, searing and unvarnished portrait of generational trauma cut through with acerbic humour. A family drama a hundred years in the making unfolds in the fictional town of Durrongo as a sacred island is under threat from developers, aided by a corrupt council official born to thievery.

The novel’s cast of utterly believable characters is superbly drawn, as is the country in which the novel is set – a magical landscape animated by mocking crows and a vengeful shark.

There is no artifice in Lucashenko’s prose, which is stripped to the bone in a close study of secrecy and its consequences. Too Much Lip moves effortlessly in the telling: dangling from the precipice where ghosts emerge to tell inexorable truths to a serene bend on the river alive with lyrical magic realism.

Ultimately, Too Much Lip reaffirms the power of family and the frayed ties that still bind.

Further reading


‘Until recently, white authors’ interpretations of blak lives were much more likely to be published than stories told by First Nations writers themselves. A novel like Too Much Lip is proof that the future lies with First Nations people telling stories about First Nations peoples and histories.’ Karen Wyld, Sydney Review of Books

Too Much Lip describes a family in perpetual crisis: fractured, addicted, abused and abusive, absent and broken. It is a challenge and a delight to read.’ Amy Vuleta, Books+Publishing

Too Much Lip…brilliantly showcases Lucashenko’s talent for constructing funny, fraught and powerful stories driven by complex characters and compelling, true-to-life dramas.’
George Delaney, Readings


Read ‘Lucashenko aims for the heart’, a portrait of Melissa Lucashenko by Maxine Beneba Clarke in The Saturday Paper

Read ‘Too Much Lip was a frightening book to write’, an interview with Melissa Lucashenko in the Sydney Morning Herald

Listen to an interview with Melissa Lucashenko on ABC Radio National