A new voice uses Indigenous Knowledge to bring enlightenment and balance.
Sand Talk, a highly original new book by poet, artist and academic Tyson Yunkaporta, presents Indigenous Knowledge as a way of solving our many contemporary ills. Modern life is out of balance and causing harm. There are problems everywhere – from how the economy is run, prioritising growth that is really a form of death to the environment, to poor personal and spiritual health. Society is based around hierarchical relationships, rather than interdependence and shared knowledge. Our narcissism makes us believe we are better than and superior to each other. The ego constantly gets in the way of clear thinking, obscuring the path to true knowledge.
Tyson Yunkaporta was born in Melbourne and raised in rural Queensland, living with about a dozen different Indigenous communities during his youth. As a young man in Cape York he was adopted by Dad Kenlock and Mum Hersie, and subsequently travelled around Australia, working with Indigenous groups and gaining a wealth of traditional knowledge. It is these years spent learning from Elders and knowledge keepers that Yunkaporta brings to Sand Talk. It is a book that has clearly spent many years in the making, a work that is the result of years of deep thought and meditation. On every page Yunkaporta strives for simplicity and truth, as revealed to him by his experiences travelling all over Australia.
Sand Talk is hard to categorise. It reads as a mix of philosophy, self-help and spiritual text. Yunkaporta has a keen analytical mind. There are many passages of surprising clarity. The author is quick to cut through modern received wisdom to expose the lie at the centre of it. For example, in a chapter discussing violence he says our clean, technological, peaceful cities outsource their violence to other places and peoples. “You carry the pillaged metals in your phone from devastated African lands and communities. Your notions of peaceful settlement and development are delusions peppered with bullet holes and spears.” Another chapter discusses the origins of modern education as a way of ensuring obedience and conformity, with an impressive use of history to make the point. The book is full of such radical examples, showing how Western civilisation uses artifice and polished rhetoric to conceal its darker side.
Written in a simple, clear language, yet demanding concentration and commitment, Sand Talk is like nothing you've read before.
Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Change the World, by Tyson Yunkaporta. Published by Text. $32.99
Review by Chris Saliba
From teenage angst to bedroom farce, Nina Kenwood's debut romantic comedy for young adults is a winner.
Eighteen-year-old Natalie's world is coming apart. Her wonderful, supportive parents have told her they're separating. Then there are problems brewing with her tight-knit group of friends. She met Lucy and Zach at a writing camp. The three of them were best friends, but then things got more serious between Lucy and Zach. Natalie, without a boyfriend of her own, feels like a third wheel. On top of this there are all of Natalie's personal problems and vulnerabilities. She's terribly introverted, obsesses over the smallest thing and finds social situations – especially parties – mortifying. An acne problem in her younger years has left some scars, both physical and emotional. She hates the idea of showing her body to anyone.
Along comes Alex, a boy one year older than her, who starts to take notice. Through a series of farcical mix-ups, where Natalie and Alex are forced to share a bedroom, the two get to know each other. There are misunderstandings that follow, and when Natalie finds out some unpleasant details from Alex's past, she wonders if she can ever be his boyfriend.
Nina Kenwood's debut It Sounded Better in My Head is a charming, funny, all-too-human coming-of-age story. The novel perfectly captures those awkward, uncertain teenage years when emotions are constantly on the boil. The plot is simple yet cleverly crafted and paced, making it a dream to read.
Genuine, true to life and often quite funny, It Sounded Better in My Head is a winner that deserves wide appeal.
Reading age: 14 +
It Sounded Better in my Head, by Nina Kenwood. Published by Text. $19.99
Review by Chris Saliba
North Melbourne Books