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Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray

River of Dreams

Anita Heiss



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01 May 2021

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- This makes a worthy addition to the fine Indigenous novels that are appearing on the shelves these days. Heiss, who has shown herself to be an accomplished writer, has produced her best ever with this historical novel set on the Murrumbidgee in the nineteenth century. Life is changing for the proud Wiradyuri (Heiss' preferred spelling) people of the river country, and Wagadhaany finds herself the servant of an ambitious colonial family. They may control her way of living, but they do not control her heart. When the settlement of Gundagai is flooded in 1852, her life is altered still further, and she is taken away from her country by a well-meaning Quaker mistress, who in wanting to do the right thing doesn't consider if it is right by the Indigenous people she wants to assist. Always yearning for her place, Wagadhaany nonetheless carries on with strength, courage and grace, and finds love with Yindyamarra, a fine Wiradyuri man, employed as a stockman and so no freer than she is, to follow his own inclinations. A novel that shows the disruption and cruelty of colonialism, but celebrates the enduring culture of the Wiradyuri and the indomitable spirit of a brave woman.   Lindy


Set on timeless Wiradyuri country, where the life-giving waters of the rivers can make or break dreams, and based on devastating true events, Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams) is an epic story of love, loss and belonging. 

Gundagai, 1852

The powerful Murrumbidgee River surges through town leaving death and destruction in its wake. It is a stark reminder that while the river can give life, it can just as easily take it away.

Wagadhaany is one of the lucky ones. She survives. But is her life now better than the fate she escaped? Forced to move away from her miyagan, she walks through each day with no trace of dance in her step, her broken heart forever calling her back home to Gundagai.

When she meets Wiradyuri stockman Yindyamarra, Wagadhaany's heart slowly begins to heal. But still, she dreams of a better life, away from the degradation of being owned. She longs to set out along the river of her ancestors, in search of lost family and country. Can she find the courage to defy the White man's law? And if she does, will it bring hope ... or heartache?

By:   Anita Heiss
Imprint:   SIMON451
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
ISBN:   9781760850449
ISBN 10:   1760850446
Pages:   416
Publication Date:   01 May 2021
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Dr Anita Heiss is an award-winning author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women's fiction, children's novels and blogs. She is a proud member of the Wiradjuri Nation of central New South Wales, an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the GO Foundation and Worawa Aboriginal College. Anita is a board member of University of Queensland Press and Circa Contemporary Circus, and is a Professor of Communications at the University of Queensland. As artist in residence at La Boite Theatre in 2020, Anita began adapting her novel Tiddas (S&S, 2014) for the stage. Her novel Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms (S&S 2016) set in Cowra during World War II, was the 2020 University of Canberra Book of the Year. Anita enjoys eating chocolate, running and being a 'creative disruptor'.

Reviews for Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray: River of Dreams

'A powerful story of family, place and belonging.' - Kate Grenville, author of A Room Made of Leaves 'Engrossing and wonderful storytelling. I really loved these strong, brave Wiradyuri characters.' - Melissa Lucashenko, author of Too Much Lip

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