Book Review: Terra Nullius

Author: Claire G. Coleman
Publisher: Hachette

The 2016 winner of the black&write! Fellowship, Claire G. Coleman’s debut features a premise that is oh-so-familiar and devastating. Jacky is on the run in central Australia. He has a band of ‘Troopers’ giving chase while a pious ‘Sister’ hands our harsh treatment to a group of ‘Native’ children under the auspices of education.

Children are taken from their families and relocated. ‘Settlers’ are moving in. Groups of Natives hit the grog. The Troopers tracking Jacky have a lust to take Native blood while a former Trooper has joined a group of Natives to form an outlaw posse. This is Australia.

It’s not the past and it is. There is a major twist that can’t be mentioned and it is an alarming one that takes a few pages to come to grips with. Terra Nullius is a powerful, sobering piece of writing that makes us face an Australia we try to forget, but should always remember.

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