Kim Scott is a multi-award winning Indigenous author from Western Australia. He grew up near Albany, in southern Western Australia, then on leaving school completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Graduate Diploma in Education at Murdoch University, in Perth. He initially worked as a secondary school teacher and later turned to writing full-time.
Scott began working on his first novel, the semi-autobiographical True Country (1993), whilst teaching at a remote Aboriginal community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Since then he has gained widespread critical acclaim for the way in which his writing explores questions of identity, race and history, and also for his interest in finding ways that Indigenous people might connect their ancient heritage to contemporary life. His friend John Fielder has written that Scott "is an important figure in Australia today because of his creative quest to open up new and different ways of 'being black', and to provide a language for that which is otherwise un-utterable".
In 2000, Scott became the first Indigenous author to win the Miles Franklin Literary Award, with his novel Benang: From the Heart (1999). In 2011 he won both the Miles Franklin and the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal with That Deadman Dance (2010). He was a guest speaker at the 2001 Century of Federation Alfred Deakin Lecture Series in Melbourne. He presented at the 2004 Melbourne 'Globalisation and Identities' forum. He has been a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council. In 2012 he was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and also named West Australian of the Year.
Since completing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Western Australia in 2009, Scott has been involved with the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute and also the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Story Project. He is currently Professor of Writing in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University.
'From Kim Scott, two-times winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, comes a work charged with ambition and poetry, in equal parts brutal, mysterious and idealistic, about a young woman cast into a drama that has been playing for over two hundred years ...
'Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar's descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife's dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations.
'But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged.
'We walk with the ragtag group through this taboo country and note in them glimmers of re-connection with language, lore, country. We learn alongside them how countless generations of Noongar may have lived in ideal rapport with the land. This is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.' (Publication summary)
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.)