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Product details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Bolinda Audio; MP3 Una edition (4 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1743164947
  • ISBN-13: 978-1743164945
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.3 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Review

A haunting, lyrical novel based on the first contact between Europeans and the Noongar people of Western Australia . Scott pays meticulous attention to landscape and nature, and his descriptions are frequently wonderful (Financial Times)

An exercise in lush impressionism ... This is such a moving subject, Scott's research is impeccable, and his story skills are obvious ... Where it truly succeeds is in its glorious descriptions of landscape and wildlife, and the evocation of an ancient and mysterious place that seems to exist outside of time ... Scott, son of a white mother and Aboriginal father, clearly has a message to convey. Through Bobby he speaks of an ideal fellowship and mutual co-operation. In the deadman dance we witness a performance of what might have been, a forlorn hope that is clung to long after the true outcome has become inevitable. Until the final paragraph, which is powerful and quietly devastating, this hope is paramount (Carol Birch, Guardian)

An enchanting and authentic book, giving us an insider's view of Australia before it was Australia ... Enormously readable, humane, proud and subtle (Thomas Keneally)

Kim Scott's lyrical prose is a pleasure to read, and the classic culture clash story is subtly handled. There's a sense of what could have been between Europeans and Aborigines which gives the novel a tragic feel, but it's the language that makes the story so powerful. That Deadman Dance is an outstanding historical novel by a master writer (We Love This Book)

An extraordinary work, both realist and visionary ... Scott's scope is vast and his way of telling complex. Think Melville - never a straight line toward conclusions and perhaps few conclusions. That Deadman Dance is a novel to read, recite, and reread, to linger over as Scott peels back layer after layer of meaning ... Exhilarating (Sydney Morning Herald)

In That Deadman Dance, it is the author's imagination and his graceful prose that shine brightest ... Politically charged and historically astute, [the novel] possesses a furious poise and yet is generous in spirit (Australian Book Review) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for the South East Asia and Pacific Region. Acclaimed Australian writer Kim Scott draws on his Aboriginal heritage in a sweeping novel that reimagines the story of colonizer and colonized with fresh lyrical power and hopeful vision --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover
That Deadman Dance won the Australian Miles Franklin Prize 2011 - against expectations.

Kim Scott is a writer from Albany, Western Australia, with Aboriginal heritage. He can therefore claim some authenticity as he evokes the early years of Albany principally through the eyes of Bobby Wabalanginy, a young Aborigine of the Noongar people. Unlike some parts of the new territories, the early settlers to Albany - or King George Town as it was known - developed good relations with the indigenous people. Dr Cross, the first governor, was buried alongside Wunyeran, the Aboriginal leader. But as memory of Dr Cross faded, and as new settlers came, relations break down. This is brought to a head as the whales in the bay are overfished (if you can fish for whales) and food becomes scarce. This leads to a clash of cultures as concepts such as ownership and sharing mean different things to different people.

That Deadman Dance is hard to criticize. The subject matter is worthy and Kim Scott is a credible writer to take it on - even if he is inevitably looking back through the lens of the coloniser. But it does sometimes feel a little repetitive and a little overlong. One of the big problems is that the early settlement was little more than a few tents pitched between the trees and the sea. There are people and there is nature, but there isn't much stuff. There are some strong characters but little opportunity for them to interact in substantially new ways with one another. This can make things feel bleak; can make it feel as though the struggle for survival and struggle for supremacy is just a little pointless. The early settlers may have won riches for their ancestors, but they had little opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labours at the time.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Numerous authors, in recent years, have written about the settlement of Australia and the taking of aboriginal lands by white settlers, something the Australian government has recently tried to rectify through legislation and for which they have apologized. Kim Scott's That Deadman Dance is unique, however. The son of an aborigine (Noongar) father and white mother, Scott has written this novel from the Noongar point of view, bringing it to life through the stories surrounding Bobby Wabalanginy and his family, who are named for members of the author's own family.

From his earliest recollections, Bobby has been connected to whales, and he remembers Menak, the King of the Noongars (and his father), telling him about sliding inside a whale's blowhole, warming himself beside its heart, and joining his voice to the whale's roar, a story Bobby vividly imagines reliving himself. At one point, he even describes his mother acquiring him when his father cuts open a whale on the beach. Now, at age nine, Bobby travels between his own tribal group and that of the "horizon people" who have come to his land, learning to read and trusting in the people he has met. As more and more people come to King George Town, including British, Yankee whalers and the French, however, the "horizon people" begin to claim more property, and each time they do, they take it from the Noongars. Noongar women are stolen, and both blacks and whites begin to deceive each other, provoking vengeance.

Though it is divided into parts which have dates, the novel is not completely linear. Bobby is larger than life, a mythic figure, absorbing and relating many of the stories of his people, including one in which he "dies" and flies through the air.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book but the story was a bit drawn out and could have done with a good edit that removed some of the drift in the story

It is a fascinating insight to a period of history I know little about. It is interesting to see the change in attitudes towards the aboriginal people from necessary to survival to tolerated to excluded from society when no longer needed.

I've been to this area in Western Australia and it is an . Amazing place
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some beautiful descriptive passages but no eagerness to turn the page as the storyline and characterisation were not sufficiently interesting.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"We thought making friends was the best thing. We learned your words and songs and stories, [but] you didn't want to hear ours." 25 Mar. 2012
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Numerous authors, in recent years, have written about the settlement of Australia and the taking of aboriginal lands by white settlers, something the Australian government has recently tried to rectify through legislation and for which they have apologized. Kim Scott's That Deadman Dance is unique, however. The son of an aborigine (Noongar) father and white mother, Scott has written this novel from the Noongar point of view, bringing it to life through the stories surrounding Bobby Wabalanginy and his family, who are named for members of the author's own family.

From his earliest recollections, Bobby has been connected to whales, and he remembers Menak, the King of the Noongars (and his father), telling him about sliding inside a whale's blowhole, warming himself beside its heart, and joining his voice to the whale's roar, a story Bobby vividly imagines reliving himself. At one point, he even describes his mother acquiring him when his father cuts open a whale on the beach. Now, at age nine, Bobby travels between his own tribal group and that of the "horizon people" who have come to his land, learning to read and trusting in the people he has met. As more and more people come to King George Town, including British, Yankee whalers and the French, however, the "horizon people" begin to claim more property, and each time they do, they take it from the Noongars. Noongar women are stolen, and both blacks and whites begin to deceive each other, provoking vengeance.

Though it is divided into parts which have dates, the novel is not completely linear. Bobby is larger than life, a mythic figure, absorbing and relating many of the stories of his people, including one in which he "dies" and flies through the air. At several points, he is speaking as a very old man, amusing tourists with his lore and throwing flaming boomerangs for their entertainment. Eventually, "there were no more of his people and no more kangaroo and emu and no more vegetable. After the white man's big fires and guns and greed, there was nothing."

Many exciting subplots evolve in the course of this hypnotic and important novel, told as an old-fashioned, "once upon a time" narrative, with incredible scenes of the slaughter and rendering of whales bracketing much of the action, the whale symbolism clear. Bobby and his people follow the seasons, wet and dry, warm and cold, and as the action unfolds, much of their lives as wanderers becomes real - their values, their feelings, and their intense love of nature and the land. As events and the growing population take their course, however, one culture is obviously poised to win from the outset, and one to lose. The ending, though completely expected from the glimpses one gets of Bobby's old age throughout the novel, is nevertheless devastating emotionally. Bobby, like his ancestors, deserved better. The novel is breathtaking and important, and I suspect that few readers will finish it without feeling exhausted by its intensity. Mary Whipple
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
`We learned your words and songs and stories, and never knew you didn't want to hear ours...' 30 July 2011
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This novel, winner of the 2011 Miles Franklin Award, is set in the early nineteenth century, when American whalers, British colonists and the Noongar people first made contact in the south of Western Australia. Much of the novel is set in a period of almost 20 years, and covers a stark change in the relationship between the indigenous and non-indigenous inhabitants. From their early reliance on the Noongar in the beginning, as the settlement becomes well established, the colonists come to see the Noongar as a problem.

Bobby Wabalanginy is the central character in this novel and, as the novel opens, he is a boy. Bobby grew up doing the Dead Man Dance, a symbol of first contact with the men from over the ocean's horizon:

`By the time he was a grown man everyone knew it had never been dead men dancing in the first place anyway, but real live men from over the ocean's horizon, with a different way about them.'

For Bobby, this was a dance which celebrated life and which all people could dance together. Unfortunately, the colonists with their newfound confidence in their established settlement had different views. Different peoples, different concepts of ownership, different views about sharing. Few people, from either group, saw things as flexibly as did the young Bobby.

`Understood that there were other people he must be with on his way to becoming a man.'

Dr Joseph Cross, who led the first contact group, was a wise leader. When he and Bobby work together, both sides learn from each other. When Dr Cross dies, he is buried (as he requested) beside his friend Wunyerun. A memorial is raised to Dr Cross, but there is no mention of the Noongar man beside him. This does not augur well for the future.
We see, briefly, Bobby Wabalanginy in old age, putting on a performance for tourists: dancing, singing tales and launching boomerangs. Has Bobby become a clown?

`Bobby danced many of the people in the settlement of King George Town, and it was as if they had all come here to join in the festivity.'

This may be a novel set in the past but it holds a mirror in which could be reflected a different future. The novel is told through the eyes of white characters as well as black, of young people as well as old. And echoing through the novel are questions for the reader to consider: what if there was genuine friendship between equals? What if colour was seen as simply difference instead of a barrier? What if there was a place for indigenous expertise as well as the benefits of white settlement? The narratives do not have to be mutually exclusive, and in this book Kim Scott offers possibilities. So that Bobby's lament: `And we now strangers to our special places.' - need not be an immutable fact.

I enjoyed this novel. From the descriptions of the landscape, to the characters who occupy it, and the languages used - there is a shifting in the balance of power between the participants in the story as well as between the story and the reader. There are a number of different journeys contained within That Deadman Dance: coastal journeys, the business of whaling, the endeavours of hunting and farming. The characters come to life: especially Dr Cross; Bobby Wabalanginy; Menak, the tribal elder; Jak Tar,the escaped sailor; and Christine Chaine, once a childhood friend of Bobby's but later a very proper young white lady.

And I need to read the novel again, to more completely appreciate what Kim Scott has achieved.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Bobby knew he was a storyteller, dancer, singer..." 23 May 2012
By Evelyn A. Getchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
That Deadman Dance: A Novel, a brilliantly conceived narrative in deeply affecting prose by Aboriginal author Kim Scott, tells...no sings, the incredibly moving yet deeply disturbing story of an indigenous peoples' first encounters with British settlers during the early 1800's in coastal southwestern Australia.

The Indigenous Australians subtly and authentically portrayed in this lyrical novel are the Noongar, a gentle and generous hunter-gatherer people with a beautiful mystical oral culture and an ancient spiritual tradition based on strong belief in their dream-life and a deep reverence for their land. The Noongar are represented by the central character of Bobby Wabalanginy, who at a very young age is discovered by his people to be a great tribal storyteller.

Bobby Wabalanginy has a special charisma which endears him to all - his tribe and the first white settlers of the Cygnet River. Bobby walks in both worlds. His people love him dearly and also respect him as the tribal storyteller while the whites embrace him for his precocious charm, his innate intelligence, his remarkable resourcefulness, and his genuine eagerness to please them. Bobby learns the white fellas' ways quickly and easily as they establish their colony on Noongar land around the Cygnet River. He learns to read and write, to speak their language and sing their songs, to shoot guns and sail boats, to till the earth and hunt the whales. He comes to trust and love the white fellas.

At first the Noongar welcomed the white newcomers amiably and generously, as was their natural way. They saw the arrival of the British as the returning of their deceased people. Cultures were exchanged and appreciated; co-existence was friendly and peaceful.

In the earliest years of colonization the Noongar traded amicably with the settlers, gave them use of their land and allowed them to hunt freely their native animals. They truly appreciated any neighborly exchange with the "white fellas." But the Noongar also expected reciprocity for their generosity but reciprocity was never forthcoming.

It was not long before British colonization of the Cygnet River resulted in the local natives being declared British subjects. New diseases arrived with the white settlers and the "coughing sickness" began to take a heavy toll on the Noongar population. Then terrible misunderstandings began to develop and angry rifts between whites and blacks grew. Noongar land was seized and their practice of land-management by controlled summer fires was misinterpreted as hostility, resulting in violence and severe punishment. Food raids on settlers' provisions and livestock, prompted by dwindling stocks of native animals killed indiscriminately by the white settlers, caused even more violence and more punishment. And so history would eventually have to tell of yet another cultural genocide...this time in Australia.

It is through Bobby's perspective that this tragic historic encounter between the blacks and the whites is expressed in a language of song and dance, a language bubbling up from its ancient source deep within him. Bobby is a well-spring of mystical song flowing through history, of fluid dance swirling around geography, of tragedy distilled into a language that describes the disintegration of a native people dispossessed of their ancestral land and all they hold sacred.

Bobby's unique style of storytelling is an expression of two ways of seeing - one through the white fellas' perspective on the European calendar of time; the other through tribal perspective and ancient mystical culture - both ways blended into a cognitive dissonance which makes That Deadman Dance: A Novel one of the most extraordinary and beautiful stories of cross-cultural expression I have ever read.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A piece of Australian literature that has great historical value... 21 April 2012
By Jan Reid - J M Lennox - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott is the book that many readers (and Australians in particular) have been waiting for, perhaps without even realising it. Many authors have attempted to describe early settlement in Australia, but their efforts remain primarily from the European perspective. Scott, on the other hand, as the son of an Aboriginal father and English mother, was able to authentically deliver from both perspectives.

Kim Scott is no stranger to fame. He is the first indigenous Australian author to ever win the Miles Franklin Award; the most prestigious Australian literary award, and not only once, but - twice. Benang: From the Heart was the first of Scott's books to win the Miles Franklin Award along with the Western Australia Premier's Books Award, in 2000.

Commentary for That Deadman Dance, by the Judging Panel, 2011 Miles Franklin Award:-
'A powerful and innovative fiction that shifts our sense of what an historical novel can achieve. ... That Deadman Dance tells the story of the rapid destruction of Noongar people and their traditions. At the same time, there is the enchanting possibility of the birth of a new world in the strange song, dance, ceremony and language that are produced by these encounters of very different peoples'.

Along with the Miles Franklin Award 2011, That Deadman Dance was also awarded:-
* the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal
* the Regional Commonwealth Literary Prize for Best Book

It was also shortlisted for the following:-
* the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction
* the WA Premier's Book Award for Fiction
* and the Book Industry Award for Best Novel

While That Deadman Dance is a work of fiction, it was inspired by the authors (Noongar) ancestry and the history of the area in which he lives (Albany, Western Australia), which is also the setting of the book. Set in the first two decades of the nineteenth century, it is not only a story of early contact between indigenous Australians and European settlers, in that area of Western Australia, but it is a story told in the form of beautiful prose, through the character of a small Aboriginal boy, Bobby Wabalanginy.

The book is totally unique in its style and content. Bobby takes the reader on a journey of discovery into the way of life of the original inhabitants of Australia at the time of settlement; an edifying and thought provoking journey, which had history not dictated otherwise, could have given the reader even the smallest semblance of hope that the new arrivals would attempt to understand the way of Bobby's people; their respect for the land, and their willingness to share it.

My favourite parts:-

`Because you need to be inside the sound and the spirit of it, to live here properly. And
how can that be, without we people who have been here for all time?'

`We thought making friends was the best thing. We learned your words and songs and stories, [but] you didn't want to hear ours.'

Congratulations to Kim Scott for winning the 2011 Miles Franklin Award for That Deadman Dance, but more importantly I believe, for creating a piece of literature that not only has great historical value, but untold significance to all those seeking understanding and healing.

~ Jan Reid - J M Lennox
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great Story Rarely Told 12 Aug. 2011
By GVC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kim Scott's story of the early contact between European and Indigenous people in Western Australia applies more broadly than just WA. The first settlers relied on the Noongar indigenous people for support or even survival when they had few resources and food was in short supply. Twenty years later when the colony is firmly established the colonists expand rapidly to take land and resources and the Noongar people are the ones facing starvation as sheep replace Kangaroos on the plains.The Noongar people initially did not see these over the horizon people as a threat as they believed in their own religious relationship with the land that had continued since the beginning.

Other early european settlements went through similar experiences. The first settlement in New South Wales and also the early settlements in America nearly starved in the first few years and relied heavily on indigenous support. What Kim Scott has done extremely well is to bring these times and experiences to life through the eyes of the indigenous people and europeans involved. The main character is Bobby Wabalanginy who welcomes the newcomers, learns much of their customs despite reservations by some of his own people. The Colonists are seen through the eyes of first the kindly Dr Cross who treats the Noongar as partners and builds a relationship with them . Cross dies and the main Colonist view is taken up by the hardheaded businessman Chaine. Chaine respects and appreciates Bobby's talents but business comes first. Other Colonists like the Governor and his smart son have little regard for the Noongar. The Noongars traditional sources of food are destroyed by over whaling and killing of Kangaroos to make land available for sheep. When the Noongar kill sheep for food , as they are staving and as the colonists have killed their Kangaroos they are put in jail.

At the end the novel shows how things might have been if a partnership like Bobby and Dr Cross wanted was allowed to proceed.

Kim Scott used the technique of telling the story in the first person through the eyes of alternatively Bobby and the other Noongar and Cross and the other Europeans. I found this approach helpful in seeing the various points of view but challenging at times in following the story line. In awarding Australia's most prestigious literary award the Miles Franklin award for 2011 the judges described the book as having significant historical and national significance. I see is as having international significance as well.
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