Wresting his family from the easy living of nineteenth-century Sydney, Cornelius Laffey takes them to northern Queensland where thousands of hopefuls are digging for gold in the mud. They confront the horror of Aboriginal dispossession, and Cornelius is sacked for reporting the slaughter. This is an unforgettable tale of the other side of Australia's heritage.
Source: Penguin Random House Australia.
Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 10 (NSW Stage 5). Also suitable for Year 11 or Year 12 Literature.
Aboriginality, Australian identity, belonging, connection to place, family relationships, generation gap, identity, isolation, love, memory, otherness, postcolonialism, racism
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures
'Biographers exist in a tight partnership with their chosen subject and there is often during the research and writing an equivalent reflective personal journey for the biographer. This is generally obscured, buried among an overwhelming magnitude of sources while the biographer is simultaneously developing the all-important ‘relationship’ required to sustain the narrative journey ahead. Questions and selections beset the biographer, usually about access to, or veracity of, sources but perhaps there are more personal questions that could be put to the biographer. The many works on the craft of biography or collections about the life-writing journey tell only some of this tale. It is not often enough, however, that we acknowledge how biography can be unusually ‘double-voiced’ in communicating a strong sense of the teller in the tale: the biographer’s own life experience usually does lead them to the biography, but also influences the shaping of the work. These are still ‘tales of craft’ in one sense, but autobiographical reflections in another. Perhaps this very personal insight can only be attempted in the ‘afterlife’ of biography; the quiet moments and years that follow such consuming works. In this article, I reflect on this unusually emotional form of life writing.' (Publication abstract)
'It’s Raining in Mango: Pictures from the Family Album was first published in 1987, on the eve of the bicentenary of white settlement in Australia, when many versions of the story of Australia were advanced and debated. Thea Astley’s book presents a family, the Laffeys, as a microcosm of the national story. It is a novel made up of stories told by Connie, an ageing woman, as she mulls over ‘pictures from the family album’, covering a period from the 1860s to the 1980s.' (Introduction)