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Taboo (2018)

by Kim Scott

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688316,040 (3.69)5
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. But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged. We walk with the ragtag group through this taboo country and note in them glimmers of re-connection with language, lore, country. We learn alongside them how countless generations of Noongar may have lived in ideal rapport with the land. This is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.… (more)
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» See also 5 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
A poetic insight into the spirit of an ancient worldview. Sometimes challenging, in a good way, for the whitefella reader. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Nov 30, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received a copy of this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers.

Taboo by Kim Scott follows a young woman, Tilly, as she grows into her chosen identity as a member of the Noongar of Western Austalia, as well as a fictionalized account of the generational trauma that followed a (less fictionalized) massacre of Noongar people dating to 1880. The narrative jumps between a gathering of Noongar including Tilly and her twin uncles which coincides with the opening of a "Peace Park" to memorialize the aforementioned massacre, and Tilly's personal struggles and traumas which led her to the gathering.

I need to start by admitting this book took me a long time to finish. I picked it up and put it down after only a few pages at least three times in the first 100 pages. Part of this is likely due to some formatting issues I was having with my ereader where I couldn't increase the font size, but I can't discount this was a difficult narrative to contextualize. I was rebuffed by the prose style, which I found a bit dreamy and requiring some interpretation, and by a set of cultural norms, events, and slang I'm unfamiliar with. I would say I had to read a bit of this book before I understood how to read this book.

All that being said, I'm glad I kept at it. I think that prose style is very effective in conveying Tilly's emotional state. I think the immersion in the cultural norms, events, and slang improved my own immersion in the story. I'm not particularly interested in revealing any plot, but regarding the story itself: there were some painful scenes of white people being racist that felt like they'd been pulled from the author's own life, and after then I couldn't help but feel the tension every time Tilly and her family interacted with white people. Additionally the trauma Tilly experiences is horrific, and I had really mixed feelings about how the rest of her family dealt with the perpetrators of those acts, but all of that that felt painfully real. This was a tough but vital read. ( )
  kaydern | Jan 8, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was interested in this book because I thought it would give me some insight into another culture...specifically the indigenous Aboriginal people of Australia. However, as I got into it, it was hard for me to follow the story. It's about a girl who was taken from the culture and then reintroduced to her relatives she does not know.

It's rare that I never finish a book I've started, but after getting about 1/3 of the way through, I decided it wasn't for me. It is an ebook, so I hope to pick it up again some day and finish it. ( )
  toothpick1 | Aug 7, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I will say first that I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program, and I'm grateful to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.

This was a really interesting read--I'm far more familiar with settler colonialism in north and central America than I am with it in Australia, so this was an interesting and fairly welcoming introduction into Aboriginal literature. It feels dream-like in some places, and some of the sensory details, especially from Tilly as she starts to kind of emerge from her trauma. It's really beautiful, though I got nervous in the last third. I'd say if you're new to indigenous literature altogether, this is a really solid place to start--like I said, it's approachable, and it balances trauma and recovery really nicely. ( )
  aijmiller | Aug 6, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I found this book interesting, insightful and eye opening. The language and content was difficult at times, but overall I found myself engaged with the story. I did find having two characters with the same name a bit confusing however, and did draw me out of the story on occasion. ( )
  Cfraser | Jul 25, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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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. But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged. We walk with the ragtag group through this taboo country and note in them glimmers of re-connection with language, lore, country. We learn alongside them how countless generations of Noongar may have lived in ideal rapport with the land. This is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.

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