The Wheeler Centre
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Claire G. Coleman: The Old Lie
Claire G. Coleman believes speculative fiction is a powerful political tool. ‘It’s a genre in which there’s great scope for Aboriginal literature … It’s able to sneak politics into places people don’t expect to see it.'
Coleman's revelatory 2017 debut novel, Terra Nullius, depicted an alternative Australia – a continent of either the distant past or the distant future – with an entire, brutal ‘future history’ constructed in meticulous detail. The novel received local and international critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize.
Every Aboriginal piece of literature is apocalyptic, because Aboriginal people are a post-apocalyptic people.
With Coleman's new book, The Old Lie, she returns to themes of invasion, dispossession and apocalypse. Again, it's a novel of startling and alarming twists. And again, it's an outstanding contribution to the growing body of superb speculative fiction from Aboriginal authors, also including Alexis Wright and Ellen van Neerven.
For this conversation, Coleman is joined by Tyson Yunkaporta, author of Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World. The pair discuss craft, creativity and Indigenous imaginations. Does speculative fiction have in-built critical mechanisms that especially serve Indigenous authors?
Claire G. Coleman is a Noongar woman whose family have belonged to the south coast of Western Australia since long before history started being recorded. Claire writes fiction, essays, poetry and art writing while either living in Naarm (Melbourne) or on the road. During an extended circuit of the continent she wrote a novel, Terra Nullius, which won the black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship and was listed for eight awards including a shortlisting for The Stella Prize. Lies, Damned Lies is her first full length work of non-fiction.
Tyson Yunkaporta is an academic, arts critic and researcher, who belongs to the Apalech Clan in far north Queensland. He carves traditional tools and weapons and also works as a senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University in Melbourne.