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Book review: The Yield by Tara June Winch

The Yield is a book that requires concentration, and so I feel like I didn’t do justice to it by listening to it on audiobook, rather than reading the print version.

Tara June Winch’s acclaimed novel follows the story of August as she returns to her home after the death of her grandfather. The stories of August and her grandfather, Albert, are told through life and language, linking the present day with the past.

Dispossession is familiar to both, as August fights a mine that will see her grandmother lose her house, and as Albert learns a language that he had lost due to a childhood spent at an Aboriginal Boys Home.

In this way, the language of the Wiradjuri people is threaded through the story, describing the lessons that ‘s grandfather learnt as a young man and helping him regain a culture and history of which he had been deprived.

I found it quite hard to follow the story, and I think this might have been a result of the audiobook delivery. As a visual person, I find it easier to see words than to hear them, and so I struggled with the new language, as beautiful as it is to hear.

However, it is impossible not to be impacted by the brutality committed by white people against Australia’s indigenous population, and I was ashamed to hear of the pain inflicted on August’s forebears. It is a history of which I am aware, but the reminder never fails to sting. And while it is an uncomfortable reminder, it is also an essential one.

I also recently read Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip, which explored similar themes of generational trauma, racism and a return home to a place tainted with pain.

I found Too Much Lip to be utterly mesmerising, but was not moved in the same way by The Yield. I will be interested to read this widely acclaimed book in its physical form to pick up on some of the story that I might have missed.


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