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The Yield (Tara June Winch, Hamish Hamilton)

The Yield unpicks intergenerational trauma and redacted histories in prose that glimmers. The word ‘yield’ has a dual meaning: in English it refers to the harvest reaped from the land and in the language of the Wiradjuri people, its equivalent baayanha means the circumstances we individually bend to. Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi gathers the scattered papers of his Wiradjuri-English dictionary knowing his final days draw close. When his granddaughter August hears of his death, she comes home to Massacre Plains—at first unwillingly—and finds the place and her family need her help. The Yield is cleverly constructed, alternating between August’s third-person, contemporary narrative, Poppy’s testimony, and the archival letters of the benighted Reverend Ferdinand B Greenleaf, the narrative weaving back and forward in time, gathering its strands into a deep and powerful conclusion. Encompassing the consequences of colonisation and how acknowledging white complicity leads to healing, the vivid voices of the characters, as well as the book’s troubled young hero, reminded me of Kim Scott’s Taboo. The Yield is a bleak and beautiful book that eloquently phrases the weight of history, with an ultimately uplifting sensibility at its heart: that of the power of storytelling across thousands of years.

Anne Barnetson is a bookseller and illustrator based in Perth

 

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