Celebrating the New Indigenous Literature
On 29 June, in preparation for NAIDOC week, the Australian Consulate-General hosted a discussion on ‘Celebrating the New Indigenous Literature’ by multi-award winning Indigenous author, Dr. Anita Heiss.
After introducing herself in her native tongue, Dr. Heiss, a member of the Wiradjuri nation, presented a well balanced discussion in an entertaining manner. Dr. Heiss focused on topics such as the literacy gap between Indigenous and Non Indigenous Australians, writing as a tool for reconciliation, the progression of Indigenous literature over the last decade, the popularity of Indigenous authors internationally, and the genres of books that are concentrated on by Indigenous authors, such as children’s literature or autobiographies.
Anita Heiss addresses the audience at the Celebrating the New Indigenous Literature event
Dr. Heiss utilised a number of statistics in her presentation, which helped to support her arguments whilst keeping the discussion light hearted at times. One of the statistics mentioned was the prevalence of female Indigenous Australians when compared to males. Dr. Heiss noted that this was her reason for “not having a husband”.
Dr. Heiss spoke of a number of Indigenous authors who were now winning ‘mainstream awards’ and also stated that this was important for all Australians, because Indigenous literature can be utilised as a way to learn about Australian history.
On a more serious note, Dr. Heiss addressed the fact that by the age of 15 years, one third of Indigenous people will not have the literacy skills to face day to day life. She noted that this issue needs to be dealt with, as literature is a key to self determination. She also mentioned the ways in which people are making contributions to this cause, such as providing Indigenous youth with access to books in the Northern Territory.
Publications of Dr. Heiss include Not Meeting Mr Right and Avoiding Mr Right, which she comments are based on “15 years of bad dates”. Her new novel Manhattan Dreaming is to be released on the 1st of July in New York.