#aww2020 · 2020 Reviews · Australian · book bingo · contemporary fiction · historical fiction

#Book Bingo 2020 Round 7: ‘Prize Winning Book’- The Yield by Tara June Winch

Bingo 2020 11 july 2020

Book Bingo 2020 is a collaboration challenge I am completing for the third year with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse. On the second Saturday of each month, beginning on Saturday 11th January 2020, Theresa, Ashleigh and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The Book Bingo 2020 card contains a total of 12 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year, with the aim to complete the whole card by December. To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us, there is no crossover – that is planned anyway! We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post, tagging us on social media, posting in Page by Page Book Club with Theresa Smith Writes  or by visiting our blogs The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.


Shortlisted for the VPLA.the yield small

Winner, Book of the Year, People’s Choice, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction at NSW Premier’s Literary Award.

Shortlisted for the Stella Prize.

Longlisted Miles Franklin Award.

Just tell the truth and someone will hear it eventually.

The yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things: baayanha.

Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind.

August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land – a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river.

Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch’s The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

Review:

‘I want to spread everywhere I can over Prosperous, I want the body to float up to the leaves, I want to rest in the wheatfield, the last yield, before it’s dug open.’

The Yield is a rich and remarkable odyssey into Indigenous people and their culture. Structured in the form of three equally compelling narratives, this profoundly Australian yarn takes a deeper look at Indigenous identity and the power of language. The Yield is a text that should be read by all Australians.

The Yield is the compelling tale of Albert Gondiwindi, who reveals his powerful and sad life story. We learn of Albert’s early years growing up in the NSW based area of Murrumby River on Massacre Plains. Albert remains true to his culture and people, despite the deep loss he has experienced in his life. In order to preserve his legacy, Albert compiles a remarkable dictionary that captures the language and unique words of his people. In contemporary times, Albert’s granddaughter August must return home following her grandfather’s death. As August struggles to contain her grief, she also feels a great deal of disconnection between her past and present day existence. August’s deep sense of loss and distance from her ancestral home is further compounded by the tragic plans of a mining company in the region to take away her kin’s land. As August fights for the land of her grandfather, her people and her past, August gleans a great deal more about the secrets of her family’s past.

On first glance The Yield appears to be quite a complex novel. Intertwining three voices, each as compelling as the other, Tara June Winch’s novel releases three stories that reveal much about Indigenous people, the land, language, culture and belief systems. It took a little time for me to settle into the groove of this novel’s set style and fully appreciate the intentions of the author’s approach. However, I do admit that I came away from my reading of The Yield with an increased level of respect for the Indigenous language structure.

Albert’s story is told via his compelling first person account. It is a rich and colourful life, but these snapshots are told with moments of disbelief and sorrow. Albert spent much of his life in missions and boy’s homes. Although these policies were formed with supposedly good intentions, you can see just how devastating and destructive these places were to the local culture. Albert’s story will break your heart, but it also offers an enlightening glimpse into the sovereignty of the indigenous language and Albert’s location specific dialogue. Albert’s collection of words are noted down in the form of a dictionary, which is carefully inserted within the main narrative.

August is Albert’s granddaughter. August’s story captures some of the feelings I think would be felt by many modern day Indigenous people. With over a decade away from her home base, August struggles to bridge the world between her past and her present day existence. The loss of her grandfather Albert seems to compound this sense of deep loss and disconnection. Tara June Winch does a very good job of capturing these feelings and sensitivities. The fight August faces in retaining the land that is so sacred to her people highlights the present day complications faced by the Indigenous people in gaining an upper hand over big mining companies. This was another eye opening and thought provoking component to The Yield.

In the final voice of this tender and moving text, we delve into the mind of a local pastor to the region, based on a Lutheran mission in 1915. Through this compelling perspective which takes the format of journal entries and letters, we appreciate the conditions, treatment, cruel policies, loss, abuse and the strong sense of injustice experienced by many local Indigenous people. This is a regrettable time in our history books that I feel we should be made aware of, despite how saddening it can be to read.

In an effort to help further situate the reader in the site of the struggles experienced by the local people featured in The Yield, there is an informative map that is included in this text. Albert’s dictionary is located at the end of the story and is a noteworthy accompaniment to this beguiling story.

Educative, revealing and spiritually moving, The Yield offers a merciful look into family, love, loss, culture, history, land and faith. The Yield  is an important novel for all readers of our nation and it is an obvious choice for the awards it has received and those it has been nominated for.

**** 4 stars

The Yield by Tara June Winch was published on 2nd July 2019 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Yield, Tara June Winch, visit here.

The Yield is book #79 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge

8 thoughts on “#Book Bingo 2020 Round 7: ‘Prize Winning Book’- The Yield by Tara June Winch

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