'Mick Mahoney is a young Aboriginal stockman standing trial for the murder of his darling missus, Mary, in front of a jury that doesn't seem to like the look of him. He casts his mind back to the week before his eighth birthday when he and his little sisters were stolen by 'the Catcher Lady' for their only sin, their original sin: part-white ancestry. But that all happened way back when his mother's Irish great, great grandfather married a gin, a full-blood Aboriginal woman, and fathered a family of half-castes. They were neither blacks nor whites yet it was reason enough to give the government fellas an excuse to kidnap Mick and his sisters and make them spend the rest of their childhood in the children's homes where their aboriginality was to be driven out of them like the devil.
It was over a year ago when Mick left the Hat Head Surf Club reunion with too many beers under his belt and Mary wanted him to stop at the derelict boys' home on their way home to show her first-hand why it was all so terrible bad there. He should never have mentioned that mongrel of a place to her. When he woke the next morning, two burly detectives busted down his front door and slapped him round, trying to get him to confess to pushing Mary into the dry swimming pool at the boys' home on purpose like and splitting her head open cause he's a no-hoper black fella that can't hold his grog.
But the coppers and all the lawyer fellas prosecuting him have got it all wrong, dead set wrong. The only hope Mick has of any salvation in this life is to place himself in the hands of the two young lawyer fellas Aboriginal Legal sent and the priest fella that's the new chaplain at Grafton Gaol, where Mick's waiting for his appeal to come up cause that bunch of old sulphur crested cockatoos on the jury never believed a word of his story. It'll take a year for the appeal to come on, way down in Sydney. So Mick's got to just bide his time: serve out his punishment for a crime he never committed.' (From the publisher's website.)
Epigraph: This book does not aim to be a work of art, an object detached from an author and from the world, pursuing in the sky its lonely flight. I could have told of my past life in another tone, in other words. I have made it sound heroic because I have within me what is needed to do so, lyricism. My concern for coherence makes it my duty to carry on my adventure in the tone of my book. It will have served to define the indications which my past presents; I have laid my finger, heavily and many times, on poverty and punished crime. It is toward these that I shall go. Not with the premeditated intention of finding them, in the manner of the Catholic saints, but slowly, without trying to evade the fatigues and horrors of the venture.
But am I being clear? It is not a matter of applying a philosophy of unhappiness. Quite the contrary. The prison - let us name that place in both the world and the mind - toward which I go offers me more joys than your honours and festivals. Nevertheless, it is these which I shall seek. I aspire to your recognition, your consecration.
Jean Genet, Journal du Voleur, 1949 - the English translation (The Thief's Journal), 1964, with foreword by Jean-Paul Sartre.