The Yield by Tara June Winch
The Yield by Tara June Winch
UK Publication Date: Jan 2021
Literary Awards: Miles Franklin Award 2020
Reviewed by: Book Worm
This ARC was provided by 4th Estate (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
One Word Review – Important. Two Word Review – Read It.
Synopsis from Netgalley: Knowing that he will soon die, Albert “Poppy” Gondiwindi has one final task he must fulfill. A member of the indigenous Wiradjuri tribe, he has spent his adult life in Prosperous House and the town of Massacre Plains, a small enclave on the banks of the Murrumby River. Before he takes his last breath, Poppy is determined to pass on the language of his people, the traditions of his ancestors, and everything that was ever remembered by those who came before him. The land itself aids him; he finds the words on the wind.
After his passing, Poppy’s granddaughter, August, returns home from Europe, where she has lived the past ten years, to attend his burial. Her overwhelming grief is compounded by the pain, anger, and sadness of memory―of growing up in poverty before her mother’s incarceration, of the racism she and her people endured, of the mysterious disappearance of her sister when they were children; an event that has haunted her and changed her life. 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 and honor Poppy and her family, she vows to save their land―a quest guided by the voice of her grandfather that leads into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river.
Told in three masterfully woven narratives, The Yield is a celebration of language and an exploration of what makes a place “home.” A story of a people and a culture dispossessed, it is also a joyful reminder of what once was and what endures―a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling, and identity, that offers hope for the future.
My Thoughts: I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to this book but I was very pleased with what I found. This is a thoughtful, beautiful and poetic homage to the aboriginal way of life in particular their use of land and language.
The summary above pretty much tells you all you need to know about this novel. The only thing I can add is that I found it very educational as I am not that familiar with Australian history particularly the treatment of the Aborigines. Everywhere they go the colonial powers wreak havoc, destroy families and claim land to which they have no right and guess what…Australia was no different. What I found most hard to stomach is that some of the evil things that were inflicted on the Aborigines only ended a few years before I was born and that is truly shocking.
My favourite part of the story was Poppy’s dictionary where we would start the chapter with one or more words in the Wiradjuri language followed by a personal translation of what those words meant to Poppy in the form of a cohesive family history.
What to watch out for when reading this? The definition of the title – Yield as this has more than the obvious meaning in relation to the story as a whole.
I am disappointed this didn’t make the Booker Longlist at least as this to me feels a lot more like a Booker book than most of the books that did make it.
Who would like this? I think everyone should read this book to get a better understanding of other cultures that exist in the world.
We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think?