Born Into This | Adam Thompson #ShortStories

Born Into This is a collection of short stories by an exciting new voice in Indigenous writing, Adam Thompson.

Adam Thompson may be an emerging Pakana writer from Launceston, but there are powerful and promising things going on here. Some of his stories pack a serious punch, others creep in quietly under your skin. Either way, it is the diversity of characters, settings and tone that is truly impressive.

Thompson has poured 43 years of lived experience into these stories – 43 years of collecting stories and story-telling.

The connecting thread between these stories is reflected in the title: Born Into This. Aboriginal people inherit values and an identity that are different to those of the majority of ‘Australians’ – yet we all have to live together. This wrestle between cultures, values and rights creates a whole range of interesting scenarios – some of which I have tried to capture in these stories. The rapidly changing world adds another layer of complexity.

Wheeler Centre 2 March 2020

Thompson reminds us with these stories (sixteen in total) that the Indigenous experience is not an homogenous one. As with any cultural group, there are a multitude of life experiences, beliefs, opinions and attitudes. There is anger and bitterness, sadness and loss, humour and love. History, culture and country are woven throughout each story. Some of the characters feel this more strongly than others. Thompson never passes judgement on any of his characters, black or white, however the perspective is always from the Indigenous one.

Many of the stories are based in or on one of the Bass Strait Islands, an area important to Thompson’s family history and ongoing cultural identity. You can also read one of the stories, Invasion Day recently published by Kill Your Darlings.

Thompson’s combination of subtle musings and direct attacks is quite intoxicating. Complex racial issues are presented in a thought provoking way, so that every reader will be challenged to confront any preconceived ideas.

My proof is covered with rave endorsements from many award-winning Indigenous writers, including Melissa Lucashenko (a compelling new voice, tough yet tender), Tony Birch (honest, humorous and occasionally raw insight), Ellen van Neerven (a world-class writer whose stories strike like lightening) and Tara June Winch (the blows are head-on, but the comfort is swiftly delivered in the wit and delicacy of Thompson’s phrasing).

The cover painting of the finished book is by Judith-Rose Thomas, as are the round badges that begin each chapter. She is a

Tasmanian artist of the Ben Lomond people whose geometric, mixed-media paintings reflect upon an engagement with the Aboriginal petroglyphs of the north western and north eastern coasts of Tasmania, and comment on the European structures that frame aspects of Aboriginal experience today.

Highly recommended. Adam Thompson is a writer to watch. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

10 thoughts on “Born Into This | Adam Thompson #ShortStories

  1. I read the story ‘Invasion Day’ and it felt real – I used to be a marcher, once – but well written? I don’t really think so. Not in the same class as Ellen van Neerven.

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    1. Some of the stories were rough around the edges for sure. The publicity machine kept emphasising the ‘emerging’ writer line & there’s a reason for that. But as I hopefully gushed about enough above, the strength & diversity of characters was exciting. And promising.

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  2. An excellent review Brona. I particularly love the points you make in your para after the Wheeler Centre quote. That captures the book perfectly.

    I also like your point that “Complex racial issues are presented in a thought provoking way,”

    This was such an enjoyable read.

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