The Tasmanian landscape and a whole host of engaging, charming and well drawn characters populate the stories that make up Born Into This, the debut short story collection from Adam Thompson; an emerging Aboriginal (pakana) author from Tasmania.
The collection comprises sixteen stories, often brief, but always impactful. In spite of this brevity, Thompson is able to tackle some hefty topics and themes; and explores issues of identity, belonging, colonialism and nature. More often than not, these themes are explored with subtlety and nuance. Though, Thompson, is certainly direct when required.
The vast majority of the principal characters in the stories are Aboriginal, which unfortunately still remains noteworthy in today’s publishing environment. It is, however, a wonderful reminder that there is no monolithic Aboriginal Australian (despite what some news outlets might believe). Thompson’s stories showcase a range of voices, opinions and experiences. Whilst we might only spend a few pages with these characters, they’re fully developed and so well crafted.
I have never visited Tasmania, but Thompson’s prose conjures up a sense of place so strongly and beautifully. A number of the stories tap into ongoing conversations about sustainability, relationship to the land and to nature. In some cases, such as in opener “The Old Tin Mine”, it done with such subtlety it’s almost easy to miss. There are also stories that highlight issues of land rights, notably “The Blackfellas From Here”, which critiques the tokenism of many within white Australia.
It is then, if you’ll excuse the cliche, a thought provoking collection, and hopefully a conversation provoking collection too. Especially, if it makes its way into book groups or onto Literary Festival panels. It’s a collection that has a lot of offer a reader; so long as they’re willing to sit with it, and with their own thoughts and prejudices.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Adam Thompson’s debut short story collection, Born Into This, is out now from University of Queensland Press.
Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.