Contemporary Aboriginal writing, like Aboriginal art, is now so diverse that is impossible to talk about any one particular style. John Muk Muk Burke, whose first novel, Bridge of Triangles, has just been published, recently told a Sydney seminar for Aboriginal writers that they were no longer writing from the viewpoint of victims. He said they were survivors rising from the ashes of the invasion like the phoenix. Burke’s own novel is multi-layered, poetic and visually strong, with a structure informed by his study of world literature.
Ever since the publication of Margaret Atwood’s first novels, The Edible Woman and Surfacing, she has been seized upon as a writer who articulated the predicament of being female in contemporary western societies. Her Canadian origins were no barrier for many Australian women, who read her as though she spoke with their voice. Atwood was like a ‘sister’ who didn’t fail them – someone who’d been there and could help light the way.
People tell you one week that they liked Gallipoli, but the next they’re not so sure. Gone are the days of intuitive gut felt reaction – everyone wants to make sure their judgements are intellectually sound. They read every ‘expert’ on the subject and come back with another opinion. Reading the script gives you another variation. The skeleton is there, warts and all.