University of Queensland Press $29.95, 285 pp, 9780702239199
Mullumbimby is a humorous, heartfelt, occasionally abrasive and brave work by a writer with an acute ear for language, an eye for subtle beauty, and a nose honed to sniff bullshit at a thousand paces. A sculptural work, produced by the author and photographed for the cover of the novel, is a bird’s nest, crafted from twigs, various grasses, and earth. It conveys a sense of sanctuary and genuine protection (as opposed to the institutional and violent ‘protection’ Indigenous people have been subject to throughout colonial occupation). But look a little closer at the image and you will notice that the nest is woven into a thorny crown of rusting barbed wire; a simple but effective invention that for the past one hundred and fifty years has maimed, ensnared, and enclosed animals, people, and land.