ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK ——
A biography can be written in a standard form: subject born, raised, educated, worked and died. And that will be fine for most people. But not Tracker Tilmouth. He was a polarising, intelligent, charismatic ideas man, whose sense of humour was legendary and devastating.
This fine new book by Alexis Wright is composed of stories taken from different interviews that Wright conducted with Tracker and people he suggested she should speak with. It follows a rough chronology from Tracker’s earliest days through to his knockabout teens, cultural education, tertiary ‘whitefella’ education and lifelong involvement in Indigenous institutions.
The structure is powerful: one person tells a story, perhaps mentioning someone else, who in turn tells their version, and then perhaps Tracker has his say—so in the end the reader gets a nuanced impression of a very complex character. It’s an appropriate way of telling Tracker’s story: every voice is given its chance to speak—something true (we are told) to Aboriginal culture.
This book will obviously appeal to those with an interest in Indigenous affairs, but it should also interest anyone who likes to read about influential figures in this country’s history, as well as to those fascinated by the process of storytelling. Lindy Jones
New book by celebrated Aboriginal author Alexis Wright, author of Carpentaria and The Swan Book.
A collective memoir of one of Aboriginal Australia's most charismatic leaders and an epic portrait of a period in the life of a country, reminiscent in its scale and intimacy of the work of Nobel Prize-winning Russian author Svetlana Alexievich.
Miles Franklin Award-winning novelist Alexis Wright returns to non-fiction in her new book, Tracker, a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker, and entrepreneur who died in Darwin in 2015. Taken from his family as a child and brought up in a mission on Croker Island, Tracker Tilmouth returned home to transform the world of Aboriginal politics. He worked tirelessly for Aboriginal self-determination, creating opportunities for land use and economic development in his many roles, including Director of the Central Land Council. He was a visionary and a projector of ideas, renowned for his irreverent humour and his anecdotes.
His memoir has been composed by Wright from interviews with Tilmouth himself, as well as with his family, friends, and colleagues, weaving his and their stories together into a book that is as much a tribute to the role played by storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life as it is to the legacy of a remarkable man.
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