'I told them to go into the scrub and disperse the tribe.
Disperse? That is a strange word. What do you mean by dispersing?
Firing at them.
'Two decades after a massacre of local Aboriginal people, the former residents of a Queensland town have reunited to celebrate the progress and prosperity of their community. Tom Dorahy, returning to his hometown, is having none of it: he wants those responsible to own up to their actions. A reckoning with oppression, guilt and the weight of the past, A Kindness Cup is one of Thea Astley’s greatest achievements.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'This essay situates Thea Astley’s 1975 novel of the Queensland frontier, A Kindness Cup in relation to the rise of projects of postcolonial revisionist history writing in Australia. I argue that we can read Astley’s novel as reflecting upon the political and affective uses and limits of history writing for the redress of violence at a moment when history writing was undergoing major shifts in Australia. Much Australian left wing revisionist history embodies the optimistic liberal political belief that uncovering and representing the unacknowledged violence of the frontier might act to redress violence and injustice. Astley’s novel, by contrast, offers a critique of what I call ‘the politics of exposure’—that is a politics that works from the assumption that violence, inequality and injustice are mostly the result of ignorance and that therefore better knowledge will help prevent them. The novel asks what fantasies and blind spots inhabit an uncritical investment in the politics of the exposé and suggests some of the ways that the desire to expose violence might itself be a form of violence.' (Publication abstract)
'The first book of Thea Astley’s I read was A Kindness Cup, which was published in 1974. Rereading it in the early 2000s I was awed at how ahead of her time she was. Thirty years beforehand she had known what some of us were only just waking up to: that our own history provides a powerful engine for fiction, and that the voice of fiction can say the unspoken about that history.' (Introduction)
Kate Grenville compares the language used by Watkin Tench with that used by Thea Astley when describing the murder of Aboriginal men by whites.