cover image The Yield

The Yield

Tara June Winch. HarperVia, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-300346-0

This angry, elegiac tale of an aboriginal family from Indigenous Australian writer Winch (After the Carnage) explores the charged meaning of the word Ngurambang, meaning country or home in the Wiradjuri language. Albert Gondiwindi, facing a terminal illness, begins writing the story of his Wiradjuri family in the town of Massacre Plains. Upon his death, his granddaughter August, who had moved to England to get away from the town, returns for the funeral. After August learns the family’s home, an old mission station, will be destroyed to make way for a mine, she decides to stay, determined to save the home and land around it. Meanwhile, the reader learns that Wiradjuri artifacts have long since been excavated and removed, along with other brutal details chronicled in letters written by Reverend Greenleaf, the missionary who started the school in the late 19th century. Albert, Greenleaf, and August narrate alternating sections: Greenleaf’s long letter describing mission history is heavily expository, while August’s section is where the plot lives, and it’s enlivened by dialogue with her family. The strongest chapters are from Albert, in narratives framed as dictionary entries of his ancestors and their disappearing culture. While the shifts in narrator interrupt the flow, Winch succeeds at contextualizing August’s story with cultural history. The result is often quite moving. Agent: Pamela Malpas, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. (June)