Book review: The Yield | Tara June Winch

The Yield, the latest novel from Australian author Tara June Winch, is a brilliant story that leaves you yearning for wide, open spaces and an appreciation of Australia’s traditional culture and people. Coinciding with the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages, Winch cleverly weaves a Wiradjuri dictionary throughout the narrative and incorporates a storyline that traverses time and shares perspectives of various characters, who are all in a sense connected to the land and to each other.

August Gondiwindi returns to Australia, after living abroad for more than a decade, to mourn the death of her poppy, Albert. However, it is not until she returns to Prosperous House on Massacre Plains that she discovers all is not what it used to be. Not only has a mining company purchased the land, forcing the remaining Gondiwindi family to evacuate within days, but certain skeletons in the closet need to be resolved in order for them to have a future. As well as the mysterious disappearance of her sister, Jedda, 15 years prior, there is also the dictionary compiled by Albert that documents stories, spanning more than 200 years, of the land, people and language of the Gondwindi people. Determined to not only heal the wounds of the past, but to also save the family land, August embarks on a life-affirming quest to uncover the secrets of the past and to discover who she really is.

Written with the brutal honesty and rawness Tara is renowned for, The Yield is a compelling story of a culture dispossessed and an unforgiving land that never forgets – reminding us of the power of words and importance of the preservation of Indigenous Australian languages.

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