Taboo by Kim Scott
Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar's descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife's dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations.
This is very recognisably Kim Scott’s work, and reflects his interest in recovering Noongar language. It feels more stripped back, cleaner, clearer than the earlier novels, and consequently both lighter (in style) and weightier (in ideas). There is a strong and compelling mix of vernacular – ordinary language, slang, everyday life – and recuperative: recovering, restoring, revivifying language, culture and people. Taboo shows a desire to speak of and to Indigenous audiences first and foremost. Part of this address is being prepared to show negatives, complexities, ambiguities and conflicts, particularly conflicts about ways of being Indigenous.
Kim Scott is a multi-award winning novelist. Benang (1999) was the first novel by an Indigenous writer to win the Miles Franklin Award and That Deadman Dance (2010) also won Australia's premier literary prize, among many others. Proud to be one among those who call themselves Noongar, Kim is founder and chair of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Story Project(www.wirlomin.com.au), which has published a number of bilingual picture books. A Companion to the Works of Kim Scott (Camden House, 2016) deals with aspects of his career in education and literature. He received an Australian Centenary Medal and was 2012 West Australian of the Year. Kim is currently Professor of Writing in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University.