The Yield

By Tara June Winch Penguin Random House

The yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things: baayanha.

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 endeavours 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.

Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch’s The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.


Tara June Winch

Tara June Winch is a Wiradjuri author, born in Australia in 1983 and based in France. Her first novel, Swallow the Air was critically acclaimed. She was named a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist, and has won numerous literary awards for Swallow the Air. A 10th Anniversary edition was published in 2016.

In 2008, Tara was mentored by Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka as part of the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

Her second book, the story collection After the Carnage was published in 2016. After the Carnage was longlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for fiction, shortlisted for the 2017 NSW Premier’s Christina Stead prize for Fiction and the Queensland Literary Award for a collection. She wrote the Indigenous dance documentary, Carriberrie, which screened at the 71st Cannes Film Festival and is touring internationally.

Judges' report


The innovative conceit of this work of fiction is Winch’s use of the language of the Wiradjuri people, to both tell the story and to teach language words. The result is a collection of interweaving stories that are revealed at a slow and gentle pace giving the reader the time needed to drop into the narrative.

Winch teaches us about Language with a capital ‘L’ weaving the present urgency of belonging, land rights, mining and climate change, with the stark reminder of the invasion history of pain and loss. The reader experiences an intricate layering of time through narrative explored in Language. This is Language that drives culture, and energy, and brings people back from the brink. It is Language that heals.

The vital importance of this story, as well as being a fabulous read, is that it reminds us that the way forward,the way to healing and reconnection, both for the land and for people, is through the depth of knowledge held within Indigenous languages.

Further reading


Reviews

‘Wiradjuri writer Tara June Winch is not afraid to play with the form and shape of fiction … Admirers of Kim Scott’s Taboo and Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip will enjoy Winch’s Aboriginal realism.’ Ellen van Neerven, Australian Book Review.

‘For all its sorrow, this is a big hearted, hopeful book. More hopeful, maybe, than we deserve.’ Miles Allinson, Readings.

Links

Read ‘I had to be manic’: Tara June Winch on her unmissable new novel – and surviving Andrew Bolt by Sian Cain in The Guardian.

Read a short interview with Tara June Winch for a favourite line of her book The Yield.



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