The Yield is a long overdue inclusion in our bookclub. Winner of the 2020 Miles Franklin award, there’s no doubt that this book will become a true Aussie classic. And joining me to workshop this book is my great friend and fellow book worm Kate Walker! A mother of 3 and career girl, Kate grew up in Western NSW so brings a valuable perspective to our discussion. This is Kate’s 2nd appearance on the podcast after our chat about The Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles last year – a fabulous book BTW!
About Tara June Winch
Tara June Winch is a Wiradjuri writer based in Nantes France with her French husband and teenage daughter Lila.
The Yield is her 3rd book. In 2006, she released her first novel, Swallow The Air, which won several Australian literary awards. After a 10 year hiatus, she released After The Carnage which was positively received by many critics. The Yield is her third book and in addition to the Miles Franklin Award in 2020, it won The Prime Minister’s Literary Award.
She also wrote Carriberrie, an indigenous dance documentary, which screened at the 71st Cannes Film Festival in 2018. She was also mentored by Nobel Prize Winner Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka as part of the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
The idea for the book came from her research for her first book Swallow the Air during which she stumbled across a Wiradjuri language class and a really thin A4 yellow dictionary had been recently published by Uncle Stan Grant Senior and the linguist John Rudder. She found this to be such a moving experience and wanted to explore the role lancguage can make to connect and heal however she didn’t feel that she did this enough in Swallow The Air do was determined to do so in The Yield.
About The Yield
The Yield is a beautifully written work of fiction told through three voices, in three narrative styles, across three time periods, that I have come to think of metaphorically as the past, present and future of Aboriginal culture. The first voice is August Gondiwindi, a young woman who is returning to her home town of Massacre Plains from London after the death of her grandfather. She learns that he had been compiling a dictionary of the Wiradjuri language, but it’s nowhere to be found. Meanwhile her widowed grandmother is being forced to pack up her home to make way for a huge mine. The 2nd voice is her grandfather, ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi’, who is determined to pass on the language of his Wiradjuri people by writing a dictionary to preserve the language and memories of his life lived on Massacre Plains. A letter written by the German Lutheran Reverend Greenleaf in 1915 forms the 3rd narrative in the book. Reverend Greenleaf first established an Aboriginal mission in Massacre Plainsi and in the letters, describes his mission to help the Aborigines.
The Yield is a powerful read that at its core highlights the power, importance and healing ability of language. Winch’s ability to develop characters who are multi dimensional is a testament to her brilliant writing. This book also focuses a spotlight on the damage of intergenerational trauma, cultural dispossession and what belonging and home really mean.
Kate and I both enjoyed it. I did find it took 50 pages or so to adapt to the pace of the book but once I could see where it was going, I was all in! We both believe that this book has the ability to educate and change perceptions. Everyone needs to read it!
Check out the podcast below for our full discussion about this great book.
You can buy the book here.