Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.
'The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.
'But slowly - by design and by accident - things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...' (From the publisher's website.)
'Although Australian indigenous poetry is often overtly polemical and politically committed, any reading which analyzes it as mere propaganda is too narrow to do it justice. By presenting the verse of Alf Taylor collected in Singer Songwriter (1992) and Winds (1994) and discussing it in the context of the wider social and cultural milieu of the author, my essay aims to show the thematic richness of indigenous poetic expression. Indigenous poets have, on the one hand, undertaken the responsibility to strive for social and political equality and foster within their communities the very important concept that indigenous peoples can survive only as a community and a nation (McGuiness). On the other hand, they have produced powerful self-revelatory accounts of their own mental and emotional interior, which urges us to see their careers in a perspective much wider than that of social chroniclers and rebels.' (Publication abstract)
Suggests that Kim Scott’s novel, That Deadman Dance, is a work deeply preoccupied with its position as a fiction and with its relation to history, to the point that it becomes a central focus of the narrative.
'In True Country, the narrator draws the reader close and says, “You listen to me. We’re gunna make a story, true story. You might find it’s here you belong. A place like this.” (15) Although the narrator speaks of ‘(a) place like this’ as “a beautiful place (…). Call it our country, our country all ‘round here” (15), belonging, for the reader, for the characters in each of Scott’s novels, and for Scott himself, is more than settling into a physical environment, belonging is finding a place in the story.
'Mamang, Noongar Mambara Bakitj, Dwoort Baal Kaat, and Yira Boornak Nyininy are major achievements in Scott and The Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project’s process of returning, restoring and rejuvenating language and story within the Noongar community and for an ever-widening public. In their form, content and intent, the stories renegotiate ideas of place and placement, confronting personal, cultural and linguistic dislocations in Noongar lives as well as an ambivalent narrative landscape in which language and story are central to both a lingering colonialism and the process of decolonisation.' (Publication abstract)
'The words of two prominent West Australian authors are articulated through the language of dance in this evening of short contemporary works performed by the talented Aboriginal and non-Indigenous dancers of Ochre Contemporary Dance Company. Excerpts from the writings of authors Kim Scott (That Deadman Dance) and Stephen Scourfield (As the River Runs) will be presented through dance, followed by brief insights from the choreographers into the process in which they engaged to bring these words to life in the studio. ...' (Source: Ochre Contemporary Dance Theatre website)
'Jo Case talks to influential writers, publishers and critics about that often frustrating definition of 'Australia' literature.' (Editor's abstract)