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The Yield (2019)

by Tara June Winch

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2661285,442 (4.13)28
The yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things: baayanha. Knowing that he will soon die, Albert 'Poppy' Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather's death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land -- a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river. Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch's The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.… (more)
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» See also 28 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Who recommended it to me: Brona's Books
  Jinjer | Aug 12, 2022 |
I've had this book out from the library for quite a while. Nobody else seemed to want to read it so I just kept renewing the book every 3 weeks. It's a shame that more people haven't heard of this because the parallels between the aborigines in Australia and the indigenous peoples of Canada are extensive. We could learn so much from the other countries around the world that were subject to the disruptive settler system.

When August Gondiwondi learns that her grandfather has died she drops everything in England and returns home to the interior of New South Wales in Australia. She left Australia ten years previously and roamed around Europe. Her grandparents had raised her and her sister, Jedda, after their parents were imprisoned. The Gondiwondi clan had lived in the same area near Massacre Plains for many generations. When August returned home she learns that their house and the surrounding countryside is about to be destroyed to dig an open-face tin mine. The Gondiwondis had never had formal title to the land and it looks like their long-standing ties don't mean anything. August had been planning to return to her life in England after her grandfather was suitably sent off but she finds that she just can't leave and let this happen without a fight. Her grandfather had been compiling a dictionary of the ancestral language which showed how tied to the land the people were. There is also the matter of Jedda's disappearance which has never been solved. After more than 10 years she is undoubtedly dead but what if she's not and she returns home to find it has been obliteratred. As August has relearned, family means everything. Even though the white settlers tried to disrupt family relationships and their ties to the land and their culture they didn't succeed. There are still vestiges that could be grown over time.

I was quite taken with the book's cover. Everytime I picked it up I would gaze at it briefly and I thought it was probably meant to evoke the ground with the grain plants sprouting from it. When I was about halfway through it I discovered that the cover designer, Jon Gray, had written a note about how he came up with the design. I was somewhat correct as he says: "These marks seemed to represent that: the ploughed mud, the shape of wheat as it rises to the sun." Of course, there is more to it than that as the meaning of the title of the book is also worked into it. In the Wiradjuri language baayanha means yield but not the conventional English meaning of that word. "In my language it's the things you give to, the movement, the space between things." And so Jon Gray designed his cover with small amounts of space between the marks. Cover design at its best adds another dimension to a book and that is what you see here. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jul 30, 2022 |
Jumps around but it comes together in the end. OK. A bit of a background on 1st nations thinking of land and culture. ( )
  SteveMcI | Jul 16, 2022 |
Slow start however it turned into a wonderful deep read as three stories wove together to tell the story of a family and its community at Massacre Fields and its mysteries and discovery. It's about language, family, loss and belonging. Like most recent Australian First Nations history, it's also tragic, but the writing is elevated and beautiful. ( )
  tandah | Feb 21, 2022 |
Read 2020, favourite. ( )
  sasameyuki | Oct 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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The yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things: baayanha. Knowing that he will soon die, Albert 'Poppy' Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather's death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land -- a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river. Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch's The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

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