Photo credit: Amanda James
Anita Heiss i(184 works by) (a.k.a. Anita M. Heiss)
Born: Established: 1968 Sydney, New South Wales, ;
Gender: Female
Heritage: Aboriginal Wiradjuri people ; Aboriginal
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Dr Anita Heiss is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales and is one of Australia’s most prolific and well-known authors of Aboriginal literature. She has a PhD in Communication and Media which resulted in a history of Indigenous publishing titled Dhuuluu-Yala : To Talk Straight. Other published works include the historical novel Who Am I? : The Diary of Mary Talence : Sydney, 1937, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature which she co-edited with Peter Minter.

In 2007 Anita released three titles: the novel Not Meeting Mr Right, the poetry collection I'm Not Racist, But... : A Collection of Social Observations and the children's novel, Yirra and Her Deadly Dog, Demon. These were followed by Avoiding Mr Right and Manhattan Dreaming in 2008 and 2011 respectively. In 2011, Anita released Paris Dreaming and Demon Guards the School Yard, which was written with the students of La Perouse Public School in Sydney for the award-winning Yarning Strong series. Her most recent novel Tiddas is set in Brisbane and was published in 2014.

In 2004 Anita was listed in the Bulletin magazine’s 'Smart 100'. Her memoir Am I Black Enough for You? was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and she was a finalist in the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards (Local Hero). Anita has made guest appearances on many television programs including the Einstein Factor, Message Stick, Vulture, Critical Mass, A Difference of Opinion (all ABC), The Catch Up (Channel 9), Living Black (SBS), The Gathering (NITV), 9am with David and Kim and The Circle (both Channel 10).

Anita is a sought after public speaker and performer, delivering keynote addresses at universities and conferences across the USA, Canada, the UK, Tahiti, Fiji, New Caledonia, Spain, Japan, Austria, Germany and New Zealand. She has also presented at Australian Embassies and Consulates in Vienna, Paris, New York, Atlanta and Shanghai. She is an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador and an Advocate for the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence.

Anita is a tireless advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing and has been involved in AustLit's BlackWords project since its inception in 2007.


  • Also published: Our Dream - Stopping the Violence : An Information Booklet for Aboriginal Women on Domestic Violence and the Law in NSW (Redfern Legal Centre, Publishing, 1999).

Awards for Works

Am I Black Enough for You? 2012 single work autobiography

'I'm Aboriginal. I'm just not the Aboriginal person a lot of people want or expect me to be.

'What does it mean to be Aboriginal? Why is Australia so obsessed with notions of identity? Anita Heiss, successful author and passionate campaigner for Aboriginal literacy, was born a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales, but was raised in the suburbs of Sydney and educated at the local Catholic school. She is Aboriginal - however, this does not mean she likes to go barefoot and, please, don't ask her to camp in the desert. After years of stereotyping Aboriginal Australians as either settlement dwellers or rioters in Redfern, the Australian media have discovered a new crime to charge them with: being too "fair-skinned" to be an Australian Aboriginal. Such accusations led to Anita's involvement in one of the most important and sensational Australian legal decisions of the 21st-century when she joined others in charging a newspaper columnist with breaching the Racial Discrimination Act. He was found guilty, and the repercussions continue.

'In this deeply personal memoir, told in her distinctive, wry style, Anita Heiss gives a first-hand account of her experiences as a woman with an Aboriginal mother and Austrian father, and explains the development of her activist consciousness.' (From the publisher's website.)

2012 winner Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Prize for Indigenous Writing
2012 nominated Human Rights Awards Literature Non-Fiction Award
Paris Dreaming 2011 single work novel

'Libby is on a man-fast: no more romance, no more cheating men, no more heartbreak. After all, she has her three best girlfriends and two cats to keep her company at night and her high-powered job at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra to occupy her day - isn't that enough?

But when fate takes Libby to work in Paris at the Musée du Quai Branly, she's suddenly thrown out of her comfort zone and into a city full of culture, fashion and love. Surrounded by thousands of attentive men, nude poets, flirtatious baristas and smooth-tongued lotharios, romance has suddenly become a lot more tempting.

On top of it all, there's a chauvinist colleague at the Musée who challenges Libby's professional ability and diplomatic skills. Then there's Libby's new friend Sorina, a young Roma gypsy, desperate to escape deportation. Libby must protect her work record and her friend, but can she protect herself from a broken heart?' Source: (Sighted 25/03/2011).

2011 winner Deadly Sounds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music, Sport, Entertainment and Community Awards Outstanding Achievement in Literature
Manhattan Dreaming 2010 single work novel

'Lauren is a curator at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra. She's good at her job, passionate about the Arts, and takes work seriously. It's easy for Lauren to focus on work, that is, when she's not focussing on Adam.

Lauren is smitten with, or as her friends say, obsessed with Adam - the halfback for the Canberra Cockatoos. But Adam is a player, on and off the field. To everyone other than Lauren, it is clear that Adam doesn't want to be in a relationship at all, even though he likes being with Lauren. In a few short months Adam is involved in one too many scandals that make the press. She is shattered and breaks it off though she can't quite let go...

When she tries to convince her friends that she is waiting for Adam to have his epiphany and realise they are meant to be together, her friends decide to do an intervention on her. Under pressure from them, Lauren successfully applies for her dream job at the Smithsonian in New York. She leaves for the Big Apple, telling herself, that Adam will miss her so much he will see the light and eventually come begging.

Once landing in NYC, Lauren's life goes into overdrive with the preparation of the exhibition, finding her way around the city and marvelling at the city that never sleeps.

There are a lot of men in New York who flirt with Lauren, in fact, there are men everywhere. In the street, on the subway, in cafes and restaurants, in Central Park and even in her apartment building. They really like her, and they LOVE her accent. They fuss over her and just like being around her. Adam had never really been like that with her at all. She goes on dates trying to get Adam out of her system and eventually starts to think that she might never have another boyfriend again, because it is much more fun, and better for her self-esteem to be single in New York.

But when Adam appears on her doorstep six months later, having apparently had the epiphany she was waiting for, Lauren is confused. Adam says he wants her back. He catches Lauren at a weak moment - the exhibition she has been working on is complete and she has to make some big decisions: The Man or Manhattan?' (From the publisher's website.)

2010 winner Deadly Sounds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music, Sport, Entertainment and Community Awards Outstanding Achievement in Literature
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