'John Batman, ruthless, singleminded; four convicts, the youngest still only a stripling; Gould, a downtrodden farmhand; two free black trackers; and powerful, educated Black Bill, brought up from childhood as a white man. This is the roving party and their purpose is massacre. With promises of freedom, land grants and money, each is willing to risk his life for the prize.
'Passing over many miles of tortured country, the roving party searches for Aborigines, taking few prisoners and killing freely, Batman never abandoning the visceral intensity of his hunt. And all the while, Black Bill pursues his personal quarry, the much-feared warrior, Manalargena.
'A surprisingly beautiful evocation of horror and brutality, The Roving Party is a meditation on the intricacies of human nature at its most raw.' (From the publisher's website.)
'In 1941 Ernestine Hill published My Love Must Wait, a biographical novel based on the life of navigator Matthew Flinders. In the same year, Eleanor Dark published The Timeless Land, imagining the arrival of European settlers in the Sydney region from the perspectives of multiple historical figures. In this article we examine how each author represents the important figure of Bennelong, a man of the Wangal people who was kidnapped by Governor Phillip and who later travelled to England with him. While both works can be criticized as essentialist, paternalist or racist, there are significant differences in the ways each author portrays him. We argue that Dark’s decision to narrate some of her novel from the point of view of Bennelong and other Indigenous people enabled different understandings of Australian history for both historians and fiction writers. Dark’s “imaginative leap”, as critic Tom Griffiths has termed it, catalysed a new way of thinking about the 1788 invasion and early decades of the colonization of Australia. The unfinished cultural work undertaken by these novels continues today, as demonstrated by subsequent Australian novels which revisit encounters between Indigenous inhabitants and European colonists, including Thomas Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972), Richard Flanagan’s Wanting (2008), and Rohan Wilson’s The Roving Party (2011). Like Dark, these authors situate parts of their novels within the consciousness of Indigenous figures from the historical record. We analyse the diverse challenges and possibilities presented by these literary heirs of Eleanor Dark.' (Publication abstract)
'Dominant theorizations of settler colonialism identify it as a social form characterized by a problem with historical narration: because the existence of settler communities depends on the dispossession of indigenous peoples, settlers find themselves trapped by the need both to confront and to disavow these origins. How might this problem affect the aesthetics of the realist novel? This article argues that the historical novels produced in places like Australia and New Zealand constitute a distinctive variant of literary realism inflected by the ideological tensions of settler colonialism. Approaching the novel from the perspective of settler colonialism offers new ways to consider classic theories of realism and, in particular, reframes Georg Lukács's concept of reification—and the critical distinction between realism and naturalism he derived from it—as an unexpectedly useful tool for analyzing postcolonial literatures. Doing so, however, requires us to jettison Lukács's progressive historicism in favor of a model of literary history shaped by uneven temporalities and a fundamental disjunction between the historical perspectives of settler and nonsettler communities—thus complicating our narratives of the development of the novel genre. This argument is illustrated through an extended analysis of two of the most significant young novelists to engage recently with issues of settler colonial history: Eleanor Catton of New Zealand and Rohan Wilson of Australia.' (Publication abstract)
'Thomas Keneally’s The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972) and Rohan Wilson’s The Roving Party (2011) resonate with the violence of the colonising process. The books relate, respectively, to murders that took place in New South Wales in 1901 just prior to Federation, and in Tasmania during the 1820s. Both novels employ elements of the Gothic mode to represent social disorder, and equate systematic racism with the mechanics of moral corruption in a hostile colonial environment. In their efforts to make sense of the past each, in its own way, has something to say about how opportunism and upward social mobility are linked to the possession of whiteness. Each taps into an historical frame of reference in which whiteness is understood, not simply as skin colour, but as something essential to the founding vision of Australia as a nation.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.