Part of the dance

Part of the dance


by Moira McKinnon

Allen & Unwin, $29.99 pb, 390 pp, 9781743315293

Moira McKinnon practised as a community doctor in Halls Creek, in the Kimberley, where her first novel Cicada is also set. She was joint winner of the 2011 Calibre Prize for her essay ‘Who Killed Matilda?’, the story of an Aboriginal woman whose audacity and traditional knowledge prompted McKinnon to question the efficacy of Western medicine and philosophy.

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Published in April 2014, no. 360
Francesca Sasnaitis

Francesca Sasnaitis

Francesca Sasnaitis is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Western Australia and has recently completed her first novel, Summerlands, which is partially based on her family’s experience of World War II. 

Comments (2)

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    I thought this review was irresponsible and inaccurate. Why didn’t The Australian Book Review give Cicada to someone with a sound knowledge of the history of our indigenous peoples, to be reviewed? Surely there must be someone that the A.B.R. knows with an in-depth understanding and sensitivity of aboriginal people. Shame on you, The Australian Book Review as you have not only done a disservice to Ms McKinnon but also to the aboriginal people of the Kimberley, W.A. — and a grave one to the reviewer who clearly doesn’t appreciate the plight of aboriginal people. Take for instance her line – “McKinnon’s Aboriginal characters seldom express a direct opinion. They remain indecipherable, the opacity of their inner reality perhaps a failure of the author’s imagination, perhaps a silence emblematic of how little whites were (and are) willing to listen.
    I’m staggered that this reviewer would even suggest it is a failure of the author’s imagination.
    Once a people have endured invasion, genocide, and brutality, they become mistrustful of the perpetrators of such violence. They become hesitant to speak up, to offer their opinion for fear of retribution is great; their very survival lies in the hands of white people.

    To suggest that Cicada is melodramatic is incorrect. While the actual story is fiction, it is very much representational of what was happening to aboriginal people at that time.

    Also I found the reviewers opening line in the second paragraph disturbing: in that the words ‘messed up’ and ‘too much white fella stuff” it had been lifted from Ms Kinnons essay “Who Killed Matitla” and not from Cicada. These words i.e., ‘messed up’ and ‘too much white fella stuff’ are being voiced my Matiltda — an aboriginal woman. But sadly, the reviewer has attributed them to Ms McKinnon and thus giving it a satirical edge. It really isn’t a joke when a country and its indigenous inhabitants are destroyed.
    Why wasn’t this review scrutinised for errors and inaccuracies?
    Again, my deep dismay with The Australian Book Review, an opportunity towards reconciliation squandered.

    Sincerely Yours
    Marlish Glorie

    Friday, 04 April 2014 15:15 posted by  Marlish Glorie
  • Leave a comment

    There is nothing 'euphemistic' about AO Neville and his title 'Chief Protector of Aborigines'. The person and the title were real. Moira McKinnon

    Thursday, 03 April 2014 20:48 posted by  Moira McKinnon

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