NAIDOC Week Book Recommendations

Eugenia Alabasinis


With NAIDOC week running from the 2nd-9th July this year, I’ve been seeking out reads which explore the diversity of experiences faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a starting point with ten books that I’ve either read recently myself or are on my radar

  1. Freedom Ride by Sue Lawson

A YA novel which delves into the racial tensions of 1960’s rural Australia, drawing from the 1965 Freedom Ride by the ‘Student Action for Aborigines’ in 1965.

  1. Swallow the Air by Tara June Winch

A lyrical and memorable read which highlights the disparity between the quality of life for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, taking readers on a road-trip across the country before ending on a hopeful note.

  1. The Tribe series by Ambelin Kwaymullina

The author of this series has described it as ‘Indigenous Futurism’, using the ‘speculative fiction genre to challenge colonialism and to imagine Indigenous futures’. The first book The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf sets the tone a few hundred years into the future, with the worldbuilding incorporating key elements of the Dreaming.

  1. Becoming Kirrali Lewis by Jane Harrison

A coming of age novel set in the 1960’s and 1980’s, about a young Aboriginal law student who seeks information about her heritage and birth mother outside the world of her white adoptive family.

  1. Sister Heart by Sally Morgan

This poignant story from the perspective of a child from the Stolen Generations won the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Children’s Fiction, but its aching prose can be appreciated by readers of any age.

  1. Nginingawila Ngirramini: Our Story by Tiwi Girls College

Produced in just one week by Hachette in collaboration with the Indigenous Literary Foundation and the talented students at Tiwi Girls College, this is a special book about their backgrounds and aspirations for the years to come.

  1. Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French

Jackie French’s Australian historical novels are always well-researched and have so much heart. In this book, the nation’s early history as a colony and the attitudes towards Aboriginal people at the time are explored, as the protagonist Nanberry attempts to reconcile his experiences in two very different ways of life.

  1. The Heaven I Swallowed by Rachel Hennessy

This story takes place some years after the Second World War, and interestingly commentates on the Stolen Generations through the lens of a white perpetrator as the narrator.

  1. Home by Larissa Behrendt

A powerful debut which brings to the fore the sense of belonging which is tied to the land, and a yearning to discover more about one’s family history. Interestingly this story is based on actual events which occurred in Behrendt’s grandmother’s life.

  1. Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko

A winner in the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards, this book brings further attention to the issues surrounding Native Title and its repercussions on the sense of kinship for Aboriginal Australians.


For more information on NAIDOC week and the 2017 theme “Our Languages Matter”, check out the website here:


For Eugenia’s bookish musings and reviews, you can visit her blog ‘Genie in a Book’ at