To Name Those Lost
Allen & Unwin, $29.99 pb, 298 pp
Rohan Wilson’s To Name Those Lost is a ferocious and brilliant sequel to his The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award-winning début, The Roving Party (2011), which charted the murderous exploits of John Batman and his crew of cutthroats sent out on a punitive expedition to bring Tasmania’s northern Aborigines to heel, by way of terror and genocidal slaughter. The novel divided opinion: was it a realistic exploration of the dark past and birthing rites of the modern nation of Australia, or a gratuitous exercise in reproducing the trauma visited upon Tasmania’s indigenous population? Some Tasmanians may have tired of the representation of their bonny isle as a crucible of gothic violence and misery. Regardless, there is no denying the raw power and purity of intent of Wilson’s To Name Those Lost.