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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  682 ratings  ·  114 reviews
A darkly funny novel of romantic love and cultural warfare from one of Australia’s most admired Indigenous voices.

When Jo Breen uses her divorce settlement to buy a neglected property in the Byron Bay hinterland, she is hoping for a tree change, and a blossoming connection to the land of her Aboriginal ancestors. What she discovers instead is sharp dissent from her teenag
Paperback, 296 pages
Published March 1st 2013 by UQP (University of Queensland Press) (first published January 1st 2013)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  682 ratings  ·  114 reviews

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Graham Crawford
Aug 09, 2013 rated it liked it
I found this one of the most challenging books I have read in a long while. "Mullumbimby" is certainly a cleverly written authentic account of contemporary indigenous life and I really wanted to like it more. Sometimes the closer you are to something, the larger the differences seem. I have a lot of personal baggage I bring to reading this so my rating for the book says more about me than the book's considerable merit.

I have worked in the Indigenous health and Family support sector for over a de
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Should be on the Australian curriculum!
Lisa Walker
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mullumbimy is Melissa Lucashenko’s fifth novel and is, as the name suggests, set in northern New South Wales.  The protagonist, Jo Breen, is an Aboriginal woman who uses her divorce settlement and the money she earns mowing grass at the Mullumbimby cemetery to buy a block of farmland. She sees this as her own way of reclaiming Bundjalung country and the process of returning her land to health is deeply satisfying.

Jo’s life is already complicated by her artistic and moody teenage daughter and bec
Apr 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian
First, an admission: I think this is the first book I've read by an author of indigenous Australian heritage, so that, coupled with the fact that I am far away in the UK and am not familiar with all the issues it deals with, means I'm very wary of offering an opinion on it. However I do find these Goodreads reviews a useful aide-memoire.

I have read a couple of novels that touched upon the Native Title issue, but this is the first time I've read about it from an aboriginal perspective and that w
Cheyenne Blue
Nov 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book after hearing Melissa Lucashenko interviewed on the ABC. She made an impact with her obvious intelligence, thoughtfulness, and observations on race, identity, and growing up Russian/Irish/Goorie.

Mullumbimby is a stunning novel. Set in the northern NSW town of the same name, it follows the story of Jo, her daughter, Ellen, Jo’s lover, Twoboy, and her various friends and other characters that populate the rural region. Jo buys a small farm with her divorce money, and thus realiz
Jesse Blackadder
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved reading Mullumbimby. An unforgettable main character and a brilliant use of language. I felt as though I'd entered a world that coexisted with mine (being set in my local town) and yet had been invisible to me. It felt as though I physically entered that new world every time I sat down with the book. Superb.
Dillwynia Peter
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
When Australians think of Native Title claims, I’m sure they think that all is harmonious in the indigenous community and the title claim is from the correct people. In fact, it often involves warring families that believe they have equal rights to full ownership. One of the important themes in this novel is Native Title and the process involved to have a claim accepted. For me, this is what made the novel special, as it isn’t a topic well covered in our literature, and yet it has had a profound ...more
Apr 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I made it over halfway but I think I’m done.

I’m done with tawdry, hackneyed and corny descriptions of lovemaking under rain on a tin roof. I’m done with platitudinous descriptions of northern NSW settings which are made more underwhelming due to the tediously drawn out dialogue (admittedly, very realistic dialogue). I’m done with vapid characters that are half drawn and whose relationships don’t feel real. I’m done with a turgid narrative. I’m done with an annoying female narrator: physically a
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is my first reading experience of this author and following on from this I have just read Taboo by Kim Scott. Both explore indigenous life in a contemporary context and also that of land rites. Jo in Mullimbimby buys a property on her ancestors land and strives to return it to health. In Taboo a group of troubled aboriginals revisit land that witnessed a long ago massacre. A lot of food for thought in both novels. I enjoyed Mullumbimby very much and the authors acute use of language intersp ...more
Maree Kimberley
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aww2014
I really enjoyed this book. A few reviews I've read have noted the language and use of swearing. I didn't notice the swearing at all - maybe that says something about me! - but the language and dialogue was one of the great things about Mullumbimby. I did baulk a bit at a couple of the love scenes, though. They were a little on the awkward side but luckily were not a big feature of the book.

Lucashenko has a great storytelling style, which is deceptively simple but draws you in to complex issues
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
The voice in this novel is amazing: an powerful blend of slang, indigenous language, literary references and familiar phrases (I acknowledge my whiteness in saying this). The tragedy in the first third of the book (I won't spoil it--I highly recommend it to others) hits you in the gut. From this point, we, like the narrator, see the constricting nature of fences and boundaries, an image which is so neatly transformed in the image of the barbed wife bird's nest, which appears, not coincidently I ...more
Estela Anders
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I took many pages to feel comfortable with the language of the book. It vaguely resembled the English (Aussie) I have grown used to, but thicker, denser, harder to follow. I had an e-whinge with the other 'bookclubbers', I briefly considered giving up. I'm so grateful I persisted. Suddenly I became fluent in this wonderful mix of aussie and goorie! What a gift.
Technically, the writing is simply gorgeous, precise, evocative, funny, poignant, metaphysical and mundane all at once! Jo's voice is fu
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian
This took a while to get started but once it did I blazed through it. It was really good to read a story about Indigenous relationship to country that's about intra-community dynamics, not black/white relations. I loved the optimism running through this book and I wanted Jo to have a happy ending, but I was just never that sold on her love interest -- he always came off as a bit of a dickhead. The ending was a bit rushed, too, a bit too neat. But overall I loved it.
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uni, lit-fic
This is one of those books that I devoured, and now I'm lying in bed at two AM, content and comfortable in this orb of joy that Lucashenko has given me in Mullumbimby.

Holy SHIT that was a good book. It was funny, dark, goosebumpy, lovey, strong, rightly angry, passionate, honest, educational... This book made my heart sing.

Read it ASAP. Do it. I don't care what else you're reading. Read this. Now.
Natasha (jouljet) Reid
Wow, this feels like an important read. About country, culture and belonging. About love, family, and connection. But also about Aboriginal understanding of the land, how to listen and take in the signs the land and the nature world around us is delivering, if only we stop and listen and pay attention to.

The use of Goorie language dropped in is powerful, and leaves me wishing to learn more. But the connection to country, and the spirituality has me very keen to read up more. This read feels like
D.M. Cameron
Such a wonderful funny, tough Australian voice in this novel. Great humour and terrific insight. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Selena Hanet-Hutchins
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found the style a bit awkward at first -- I haven't read anything with a sarcastic wit for a while (think: Lisa Heidke, Kathy Lette) so I was a bit out of practice at expecting gags. I soon settled into it though, and the flow and pacing made it easy reading. I loved the Aboriginal English and Bunjalung thats heavily sprinkled through the dialogue and narration, especially seeing the preferred spelling of a word like 'disfla' that I've often heard in conversation but known 'dis fella' would ne ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Mullumbimby is Melissa Lucashenko’s fifth book but the first that I have read by this author. She is of Russian/Ukrainian and Aboriginal Goorie heritage, identifying with the Ygambeh/Bundjalung people of the Byron Bay hinterland around Ocean Shores. (See her author page at UQP). Previous books have won all kinds of awards, most notably Steam Pigs (1997) which won the 1998 Dobbie Prize for Australian women’s fiction, and was shortlisted in the NSW Premier’s Awards and the regional Commonwealth Wr ...more
Anne Mcginnes
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
I loved this book!
I am surprised at those reviewers who push it into the romance category and are therefore annoyed at the lack of depth in Twoboy's characterisation. It is so far removed from chic lit that those comments are laughable.
I found this book to be a powerful insight into a world we think we know..but we don't. Everything about it had an authentic feel, the lush descriptions of landscape, the rhythms and inflections of Aboriginal language, the spiritual connection to the land, the wo
I am going to refer you to other reviews, particularly my friend Cheyenne Blue for the detail of the story, I would only be rewriting just what she has said so I am going to give my response to this book instead.
This is one of the most amazing books I have picked up in the last long while. I actually finished it over an hour ago and I have been sitting here staring at a blank page trying to formulate coherent thoughts into sentences to convey the impact.
The story builds and builds as you turn t
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian, novels
I started with 4 stars but I decided the small reservations that are stopping me from giving this 5 stars are probably my stylistic and narrative prejudices against certain plot threads and techniques that are also part of what makes this such a successful novel - easy to read, sympathetic, entertaining and fast-paced as well as exploring a lot of different perspectives and experiences with depth and tenderness.

The dialogue is stand-out amazing and made me wonder if this might get bought for tel
Veronica Strachan
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Haven't been this moved by a book for a while. This is a brilliant story and beautifully told.
Kate Grenville described it best... 'Cheeky, thoughtful, real - a powerful novel about country and belonging.'
It had me grabbed from the first page, the story galloped along and then (no spoilers) an unexpected event threw me. I had to put it down for a while I was so sad and then cranky. Take it back. I know it's only a story but...
The sense of Jo finding her belonging and steering her way through the
Ruth Bonetti
Now this is an arresting opening: a woman whose job is gardening in the Mullumbimby cemetery reads and comments on tombstones. As relatives hail from there I rather hoped to find - er – some skeletons. But no.

I confess I found later chapters less engrossing and turned to other books. I haven't rated this as a result. Promise, I will come back and finish it. No, it's not the fault of the writing or author's style (though some of the language lost me), but there are so many good reads out there!
Apr 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I took a long while to warm up to this - it initially presented somewhat as a romantic comedy, with glib characters and a slightly forced writing style. Fortunately I persisted, and it shrugged off the nod to both romance and comedy, and focused a little more intently on sharing the protagonist's journey. The horse scene (spoiler withheld) was both upsetting and poignant. The ending, whilst a tad too tidy, was interesting and unexpected.
James Tierney
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Meaning is a messy act. Its fusing of memory, testimony and narrative is a selective one that shapes cadence and line out of life’s awkward arrhythmia. Melissa Lucashenko’s fifth novel, Mullumbimby, works at the guts of meaning: how we belong to each other and how we might belong to a place.

Read the rest of the review here:
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. It is such a raw and honest novel of contemporary Indigenous Australia and it has stayed with me, even days after I have finished it. Melissa Lucashenko has written an intricate story of individual and personal pain, love, loss and longing and connected it to community and Culture as the search for connection to land, language and Culture underpins everything in this story. I have found a new favourite author and I can't wait to read more of her work.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
First one of Melissa Lucashenko's novels I have read and I certainly enjoyed it. Well written with a strong evocation of place. I am actually previewing it as a possible Year 11 text in nexts year's new QCE English syllabus. I think it would be a good choice. Enjoyed the strength of characterisation and the interesting portrayal of the connections between the old traditions and the modern lives of the indigenous characters. Definitely worth a read!
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow this book. I loved the voice and the characters Lucashenko has written. And the plot which focuses on the centrality of country to Aboriginal people without at all romanticising the native title process. All complex and nuanced. The ending was a little rushed, maybe because I loved the characters and wanted to know a bit more about how things resolved.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian
I adored this book. I've not met a main character this loveable for a long time! Jo is full of heart and warmth and guts and cheerfulness and wryness.
Lucashenko's writing is delicious and I devoured it slowly. It is clear that she loves our land and her people, and I'm so glad she shared this story with us all.
Morgan Blanch
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it

The ending of this really snuck up on me and I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
It touched me if I'm being honest, and that was completely unexpected.

I definitely recommend you read this. Truly a stunning read.
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Melissa Lucashenko is an Australian writer of European and Goorie heritage. She received an honours degree in public policy from Griffith University in 1990. In 1997, she published her first novel Steam Pigs. It won the Dobbie Literary Award for Australian women’s fiction and was shortlisted for both the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award and the regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Steam P ...more
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“Respect is a fulltime job, twenty-four seven. The way to behave in the world so that nobody’s pride gets trampled, so that anger doesn’t get a chance to ripen into disaster.” 2 likes
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