Monday, February 22, 2016

Talking To My Country, by Stan Grant

Staff review by Chris Saliba

Stan Grant addresses racism, history and identity in this heartfelt memoir. 

Journalist Stan Grant has made a distinguished name for himself, reporting from some of the toughest conflicts all over the globe. Grant is an Indigenous Australian, a Wiradjuri man from Griffith. His father, also named Stan Grant, is an elder of the Wiradjuri people. Written much in response to the Adam Goodes controversy, where the AFL player was constantly booed match after match, apparently for having the temerity to call out a thirteen-year-old girl for racially abusing him, Talking To My Country uses memoir to tackle issues such as racism, Aboriginal history and identity. Its central theme is Grant trying to answer the question: what is it like to be Aboriginal in Australia today? The book’s intimacy and naked honesty allows the reader to walk in Grant’s shoes and experience his world.

Grant grew up dirt poor and his parents struggled. His father moved the family from town to town, always on the lookout for economic opportunities. Grant says two key events allowed him to move beyond entrenched poverty and into a career. His family moved to Canberra, which allowed him to advance his studies. There he met academic Marcia Langton, who pushed him hard to pursue his dreams. A stellar career in journalism followed.

Talking To My Country speaks plainly and directly about the Aboriginal experience. Grant is always intelligent and measured. This should be an angry book, but it’s not. It chronicles a tragedy now more than 200 years old, of how white civilisation was built on the assumption that the first Australians were lesser human beings, that they deserved to have their lands usurped, that this was all part of the Darwinian scheme of things. Near the end of the book, Grant put this is in words that many will find confronting, maintaining that the Australian dream is built on racism.

There is much sorrow and heartache in Talking To My Country. It asks non-indigenous readers not to turn away, but to imagine what life must be like outside of the Australian dream. 

Talking To My Country, by Stan Grant. Published by HarperCollins. ISBN: 9781460751978 RRP: $29.99

To be published 1st March 2016

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