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Australia Day

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'As uncomfortable as it is, we need to reckon with our history. On January 26, no Australian can really look away.'

Since publishing his critically acclaimed, Walkley Award-winning, bestselling memoir Talking to My Country in early 2016, Stan Grant has been crossing the country, talking to huge crowds everywhere about how racism is at the heart of our history and the Australian dream. But Stan knows this is not where the story ends.

In this book, Australia Day, his long-awaited follow up to Talking to My Country, Stan talks about our country, about who we are as a nation, about the indigenous struggle for belonging and identity in Australia, and what it means to be Australian. A sad, wise, beautiful, reflective and troubled book, Australia Day asks the questions that have to be asked, that no else seems to be asking. Who are we? What is our country? How do we move forward from here?

204 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 15, 2019

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Stan Grant

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 203 reviews
Profile Image for Jonathan O'Neill.
160 reviews324 followers
September 9, 2022
Stan Grant’s ‘Australia Day’ is a flawlessly communicated reflection on history, identity and belonging both on a personal and a national level. The writing is extremely compelling. To read this book is to feel the crush of two opposing forces within Grant’s heart and mind. “Black and White… The conquered and the conqueror… The ship and the shore.”
The tone of the book feels the push and pull of these forces, ranging from seething anger to unflinching optimism and everything in-between. Ultimately, it is a measured, intellectual combination of the two. I learned a lot from reading this and it resonated strongly with me. Obviously not the experiences or the heavy burden of grief that Grant and the indigenous peoples of Australia have inherited and live with day in day out but the abundance of fantastic philosophical ideas and Grant’s own opinions as well as a healthy dose of often overlooked history have really helped me to connect the dots of some of my own feelings on topics such as reconciliation, recognition of past transgressions and morality in general.

I won’t do a full review on this one but believe me when I say this is one of those books that leaves you feeling enriched upon completion. My mind will be simmering over its contents for a long time to come and it will certainly be due for a re-read in the future. Read this book! Particularly if you are an Australian.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,575 followers
July 12, 2019
“I am a pinwheel of colours spinning into one, a kaleidoscope of history that came to rest on the shores of Botany Bay.”

Stan Grant has done it again. I listened to this on audio and constantly wished I had the physical copy so I could highlight the crap out of it. If you're Australian, his books are essential reading. If you're not Australian, you should read them anyway. Educate yourself, and let's make this country (and this world) a better place. <3

PS. Happy NAIDOC Week 🖤❤️💛
Profile Image for sarah.
392 reviews261 followers
February 16, 2021
“Storytellers work with and against history. In history we find difference and conflict, yet the storyteller must find us in each other.”

Australia Day is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. Ever. If you are Australian, this should be required reading. Even if you are not, I would highly highly recommend it.

If you are unaware, Australia Day is currently the 26th of January. While it is meant to be a day of national pride and togetherness- the date has caused a deep rift between Australians- particularly indigenous Australians and white Australians. This is because the 26th of January was the day when the white settlers first arrived on the shore of Australia- and also the day from which the injustices and atrocities against Aboriginal Australians stemmed.

"Aboriginal people cannot wish away the past 200 years. But we are a haunted nation; tormented still by that first injustice from which all other injustices flow."

This book discusses the debate on changing the date of Australia Day, but in a really nuanced way. It does not force readers to take one particular side, instead pointing out different aspects and letting them reach their own conclusion. In addition, the book shows how the issue goes much deeper than simply a date. Changing Australia Day will not erase the systematic racism present in our justice system, history or lifestyles.

This book was about a lot more than Australia Day. It was about identity, how confusing and blurred it can be. It was about storytelling, language and tradition. It was about politics and liberalism. It was about Australia.

Overall, this book left me less certain of my feelings regarding the change the date debate. It still makes me deeply uncomfortable to celebrate a day that caused the suffering and death of so many indigenous Australians. But I am now also exposed to the intricacies of what changing the date could mean. It could be treated as a band-aid solution to appease protestors- while doing nothing to actually treat the root of the problem.

"We are not locked in time and place, we are on a journey. Yet history haunts us, it whispers in our ears, voices of our ancestors, from old wars, pitting us still against each other."

I listened to this book audibly, as read by the author himself. I would recommend the method particularly as many reviewers have expressed difficulty in getting through Grant's writing, but I didn't have that issue with the audiobook. At the same time, I wish I had the physical copy next to me while reading so I could highlight all of the beautiful lines and thought provoking sections.

After reading Australia Day, I am really interesting in Grant's earlier novel, Talking to My Country. If it is even nearly as good as this I am sure I will love it.

"How foolish to talk of identity that divides us. We cannot say that you are that and I am this. Our history, our blood, mocks us. There are so many others on all sides of my family, black and white. Who am I supposed to embrace, who do I deny? How far back do we go? At some point, geneticists tell us we all came from one place, a place in Africa. We moved across the globe, weaving in and out of each other's stories for tens of thousands of years, and that endless journey brought us here to this island and this is our home and we are a people."
Profile Image for Judy.
465 reviews39 followers
May 28, 2019
Possibly one of the most uncomfortable books I have read in a long time. Uncomfortable because this is full of questions for you. Full of subjects that will make you look deep into your formed ideals or preconceived ideas. It makes you question nearly everything.

And we all need to question everything we think we know about Australia. It is about making us look very carefully at our own ethics and values and then transfer those into examining our country.

Like all Stan Grant books this is amazing reading. The section on SOVEREIGNTY will knock your socks off, especially if this is your first look into the murky depths of actual "rightful owners of this land."

I am giving this 5 Stars because of the importance of the subject matter as well as Stan Grants very professional writing style. I will put this book aside for a while and will need to come back and reread and re-examine it all.

Once again I find myself saying "every Australian should read this" and then think. But each time I say this I am stymied by the thought (reality) how do you encourage someone with a firmly closed mind to even open a book that will create extreme discomfort. How do you encourage someone to read something other than a feel good few words, if you read at all that is. Agggh
Profile Image for Grace.
249 reviews41 followers
May 6, 2019
This review is mainly quotations that really struck me. It's not as eloquent as my review of Talking To My Country, and I apologise, but I'd rather the quotations do the talking...

200 years is a tiny fraction compared to 65,000 years and we can't expect healing to be that quick, but we can work towards it.
-We are a people - black and white; two centuries together on a harsh isolated continent has changed us.
I've always found that Australia's history is like a festering wound growing gangrenous beneath a dirty bandage. We should really take a peak but we know it's bad, we don't want to see it for what it is. We just don't want to look.
This book takes a look, but never in a confrontational way.
I read Talking To My Country in 2016 and had much the same experience. This book is short but it packs a punch. There's about 25 or so chapters and I would recommend reading one at a time and giving yourself the opportunity and the time to dwell on that chapter before moving on.
I do believe that both books should be taught in schools or essays and chapters used as part of the curriculum.

This book isn't an attack on 'white Australia.' I didn't know what to expect going in, as the topic of Australia Day has been a hot one these last few years and to be honest, I don't know where I stand because I don't know what would make it better (and if you think you do, please read this book first.) But then, we haven't had enough time to heal.
-The European presence here is fundamentally haunted by the act of invasion and dispossession.
-Aboriginal people cannot wish away the past 200 years. But we are a haunted nation; tormented still by that first injustice from which all other injustices flow.
-white Australia has a black history.
-26th January- ...a festival that celebrated not Australia, but our endurance, our resilience and our pride.

Stan Grant talks about his search for identity, that feeling of being torn between 'black' and 'white', of being 'a coconut'. Having read Loving Day earlier this year, I could see the similarities of loss of identity- whether being an 'oreo/coconut' or a 'sunflower'.
-Identity can be a cage in search of a bird.
-Race has us trapped.
-how can that census box possibly contain all of me?
-Memory is a chain linking us to a past from which we forge our identity.
While I was reading this book I was reminded of the musician Halsey, and the media attention that occurred when more people found out that she was bi-racial. It really goes to show that the colour of your skin is a beacon to the rest of the world.
-Here is the folly of race, that people in the same family can be categorised on sight so very differently.

-...history can so easily inflame old hatreds.
-.Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lectured us that history cannot be rewritten.
People often claim that history cannot be rewritten. I beg to differ. The first thing I remember learning in my history elective was that history is biased. So you know what, history CAN be rewritten, as far as I'm concerned. It can be rewritten to include those voices left behind.
-When it comes to history we pick our sides and we tell our stories and the space between us grows.
-We are not locked in time and place, we are on a journey. Yet history haunts us, it whispers in our ears, voices of our ancestors, from old wars, pitting us still against each other.
-History is not a balance sheet where we tally victories and defeats. History is not events, dates, places or names. History- if it is to make any sense to me- is a story of us and how we meet each other.

This book connected to me in a way I wasn't prepared for. On dealing with trauma- how Indigenous people are constantly dealing with it, how Stan Grant himself chooses to deal with it, and how we as a nation can deal with it.
-I could never truly let go of the pain of the past, but I can forget and there is a difference: forgetting is not amnesia it is a choice to acknowledge, commemorate and put aside.
-Treaty, recognition: these are the things that can help complete a nation.

Some horrifying facts I learned from this book:
-Lost the quote (it must have chilled me too much) but an Indigenous CHILD is 10x more likely to commit suicide. A CHILD.
-An Indigenous child is more likely to be locked up in prison than they are to finish high school.
-Charles Dickens, the great writer of the age, when referring to the noble savage of which we were counted among, said, 'It would be better that they be wiped off the face of the earth.'

Some beautiful, poignant facts I learned from this book:
-Where I grew up there was Narrandera, Wagga Wagga, Cootamundra, Gundagai; it was as if the settlers were reminding themselves whose land this was even as the local people were being forced off.
-(on his father) In his later years he has helped to revive his language, Wiradjuri, teaching it not just to Indigenous people but allowing all Australians to share in his heritage. Because, to my father, it is all of our heritage. If you are on this land, it belongs to you.
And to finish on my personal favourite,
-(a member of the Endeavour crew, speaking with the local people, motions to a strange animal) 'Ganguru' was the reply. He wrote it down as 'Kangaroo'. A new word had entered English; no longer a Guugu Yimithirr word, not quite an English word. Now, it was a distinctively Australian word: a new language born on this soil.
Profile Image for Ali.
1,292 reviews106 followers
September 12, 2022
"Liberalism is a philosophy of progress, it doesn’t cope well with the past. Liberal democracies are the same the world over, we are no different; they are much more comfortable with the things unsaid than the harsh truth. Liberalism is flawed, it has been complicit in racism and colonisation. Yet for all of that it is a glorious idea, a dream of freedom: the End of History. If history is the struggle to break free of our chains then liberalism is the final destination. Am I being too romantic; too misty-eyed? Perhaps. But I have seen the alternative. I have lived and worked in countries that crush freedom; that jail those who protest or speak out; countries where Big Brother is always watching. If I could write a love letter to liberalism, freedom is what I would cherish most. "

"I’m not alone, there are black writers and thinkers from different parts of the world committed to political liberalism but fully aware that it has historically worked against them. It is a high-wire act if black people get too close to liberalism, they can become radioactive."

Reading this book involves watching Grant thrash around trying to reconcile his deep belief in liberalism with his experiences of the utter destruction of racist colonialism in ways which are articulate, engaging and occasionally, deeply moving. It's quite an experience and reminds me of what I like about Grant - many who write to defend the Australian concept (and Grant absolutely does) do so in disingenous ways, but Grant lays his soul bare here, in a series of essays which all seem to boil down to the irreconcilable tension between wanting to believe, and then dissolving into grief.
Obviously, I disagree with Grant. I do not believe that liberalism is a progressive force at this point in human history. I can't say that the book did anything other than confirm that Grant's perspective involves living with a great deal of cognitive dissonance. To be fair, Grant has concluded from his experiences in the Middle East and Hong Kong - and the rest of the quote I have used above makes this clear - that Western-espoused ideals of Locke and Mills protect against totalitarianism. "Western civilization", he writes, quoting Bruckner, "is a jailor that slips you the key". He so wants this glittering ideal to be true, but comes crashing against the torture in children in jails, the racial injustice of the intervention, and the basic notion that these ideals were built on empires of slavery and Indigenous genocide.
Yet for all this, Grant's yearning to make sense of it all - his capacity to look at a problem from a multiplicity of angles can make this such an interesting read. It is not surprising that he is bot inspired by James Baldwin, and put off by Baldwin's certainty: Grant explores the nooks and crannies of his own doubts. Eventually, of course, it gets repetitive - there is little new here and the experiment goes nowhere beyond wanting. It is also important to remember that Grant is exceptional, not typical, and his writing is not reflective of many broader views.
Profile Image for Megan.
419 reviews7 followers
July 11, 2020
I'm really conflicted about this one. Maybe three and a half stars for the good bits.

Stan Grant's speeches on indigenous issues are FIVE STAR. His commentary in the media is always eloquent and piercing, in a good way. So, I was excited to read this book. I really wanted to hear more and especially his views on Australia Day, a treaty, the constitution and other issues that have divided commentary in this country.

Stan has both Irish convict settler heritage and Aboriginal heritage. He is brilliant with language. A trusted source. A thinker.

What I found was a lot of confusion. I expected a direct examination of the issues. I got a man who delivered directness in one sentence only to find that directness slip away in the next buried in academic political discussion. It's as if this book is a direct reflection of the questions in his mind. While interesting in itself it felt like it needed a good edit before releasing to the market.

If you are expecting a winding reflection on the role of political liberalism and its impact on the progress of aboriginal Australia then you are in for a treat. I wasn't. I found it disjointed in most parts with moments of extreme clarity and brilliant writing.

The fabulous bits, however were fabulous and he has included his most famous speeches in the book which are a treat.

I have dog-eared the following quotes:

On racism being baked in hard: "Now they tell us we should put race aside, stop playing the race card. How they love repeating Martin Luther King Jnr - that we should judge people by the content of their character not the colour of their skin. They forget King was dreaming."

On the enlightenment and liberalism being all about the rights of the individual: "Tired rhetoric about the sanctity of individual rights is not enough to silence the demand for group rights; smarter thinkers find a way to fuse the two."

If you make it to the last few chapters there are some lovely reflections on our constitution, our laws and on Australia Day. To get there you will have to trudge through some confusing reflections.
Profile Image for Chessa.
191 reviews
December 3, 2019
As an American living in Australia, I found the content of this book pretty interesting. I had a really hard time with Grant's writing style. I found it difficult to get into and get through as he is very repetitive in his narration. I found his use of punctuation to be overdone and distracting. In the beginning of the book there were a lot of references to names and events that weren't explained - I assume these things are common knowledge if you grew up in Australia - but I found myself wishing there was more background information. I had a much easier time focusing once I switched from the print book to the audio (read by the author), and the more I got into the book the more I learned or picked up on some of the background info I was missing.

Overall I'm glad I read it and feel like I have more understanding about the indigenous people here. I think a lot of what Grant wrote about could be applied to Native Americans and minority groups in the US, but I've never read or heard about it discussed like it was in this book. Reading this has me considering a lot of things I hadn't before. It was eye opening.
Profile Image for Polynesianreader.
49 reviews6 followers
January 7, 2023
Wow wow wow!!! That's all I have, I learnt so much about our indigenous people in this book then I did in school. Lets move Australia Day the 26th to another date, for the respect of our first nations people!!!
176 reviews3 followers
April 19, 2020
I listened to this on audiobook and I'm glad I did: Stan Grant is a remarkably gifted orator and talented writer which makes for beautiful listening. In terms of his arguments, it was incredibly varied. Some of the chapters seemed very passive and conservative, with Grant speaking out against protests, for liberalism, and in praise of forgetting, which I struggled to marry with his heartbreaking accounts of struggle and large-scale discrimination since white colonisation. Grant wrote that while he felt sadness he lacked anger and I think this was clear. Don't get me wrong. This book was incredibly beautiful and I loved the memoir-esque sections, but found the political and ideological parts a little wishy-washy and too hopeful for my inner cynic. Writing this review was difficult. I wasn't sure of my place in critiquing the work of an Indigenous writer on Australian identity and am still unsure what my place is, so worked using other writers on race and Australiana as a guide.
Profile Image for Serena.
243 reviews7 followers
September 20, 2021
I really liked parts of this book a lot. Grant has many important observations to make and incites deep and critical thought regarding race, Australian history and identity. I appreciated his sources and the many authors and academics he cited. It was interesting how Grant referenced cultural events such as Megan and Harry's wedding and American race relations as a way to connect and contrast Australian culture, identity and politics.

My issues with the book:
- His thoughts regarding protesting I do not agree on.
- This book takes a lot of time to get through. It did feel repetitive and was way too long in my opinion.
Profile Image for Alycia K.
117 reviews
February 4, 2021
This was a really strange read for me. It’s not a perspective that I’ve explored before, nor one I have ever considered legitimate. That the colonisation of Australia, whilst terrible, was ‘not so bad,’ because it brought us the enlightenment. It’s not a perspective I agree with, and I believe it to be relatively harmful and reinforces Australia’s general white, colonialist outlook.

I struggled getting through this because the author was struggling with his identify. The attempt of rationalisation was confusing but structured, rife with reference but not open with meaning.

It missed the lower socioeconomic section of Australia. This, I understand as the author has had an incredible career off the back of Eurocentric education, and tailored to that. However, beyond his personal experience of poverty, the poorer, less education sector of Australia was not really considered - and it’s an important lens to understand.

Nonetheless, I thought I was going to read something more sociological, and it was instead very historical, which helps explain why this wasn’t really explored. I personally prefer a sociological narrative, so this wasn’t really my thing. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the political explorations.

Overall, I was lost. The true shining moment is the epilogue, which really tied it all together. It was open and honest, connected with the author’s feelings without being tied to a theory or discourse. I wish the book was heavier with moments like this.

In the end, I have a more historical understanding of Australia Day, but I feel no less conflicted or angry about it. It wasn’t the author’s intent to help clear our fog on this issue (as he explicitly states that he is no longer angry), but it’s not a what I (this one, Individual reader) was looking for.
Profile Image for Marles Henry.
518 reviews19 followers
January 26, 2020
During this Australia Day weekend, I planned to read this book. 'Australia Day' was a confronting read. The sadness and pain I felt while reading this cannot ever compare to the dispossession, prejudice, racism, inequality and loss that Aboriginal people experience. I have always questioned how I can connect to a country that has disconnected the culture of those who have lived here thousands of years before. Stan wrote that "we are all of us a part of each other". And he also wrote that "we are all still strangers here". I am saddened that this disconnection is ever present, but I am willing to do or say what is needed to make a difference. This confliction has tormented this country and its people for hundreds of years.
Given the debate about Australia Day, its meaning and the date, I urge you to read this. Open your mind and heart. It may create more questions, but we need to start being brave enough to answer them honestly and with each other. We must stop looking away.
Profile Image for K..
3,685 reviews1,007 followers
September 18, 2019
Trigger warnings: racism, colonialism, Stolen Generations, mentions of Holocaust.

I've been excited about reading this for a good long while now because I absolutely ADORED Talking to My Country. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much, but it was still a fantastic read. Stan Grant is a wonderful writer and there were multiple sentences and paragraphs that I read multiple times because they were so beautifully crafted.

I've seen other reviews complaining that this is repetitive, and while there are a couple of stories that crop up more than once, I think it's largely the product of this being partly new content and partly essays that have previously been published elsewhere. It wasn't quite as cohesive as an overall start-to-finish story as I would have liked, but I was still hooked to the page from start to finish and I would strongly recommend reading this.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
2 reviews
November 20, 2020
Stan Grant’s Australia Day is food for thought; what I feel in my heart, is so eloquently expressed. A must read.
Profile Image for Yang Ch'ng.
29 reviews4 followers
November 21, 2020
Once again, Stan Grant comes up with another beautifully written and innately meditative reflection of the Australian existence. A deeply personal quest to resolve the internal conflict of his identity, Grant's critical questioning of his beliefs stemming from an understanding of family, politics and history will resonate with those whose identities have thrived and suffered, both by the hands of one same establishment.
Profile Image for Kali Napier.
Author 6 books61 followers
August 12, 2020
This would make an excellent text for students of rhetoric. Grant dissects and argues the various positions for and against Australia Day, across Black and white, through techniques of logos, pathos, and ethos. Drawing on philosophers and orators, he presents himself as a bit of both, truly a Doctor of Letters, in this eloquent examination of his own identity -- and all of our identity as 'Australian'. Listening Grant read his work via audio book brought a vitality to the speeches that he has given to various community and political groups, which are reproduced here. Grant presents so many facets of the arguments around the day -- some that I don't agree with though felt half-persuaded by his excellent argumentation -- that at times, he seems to contradict himself as he frames and repositions his evolving identity. Which makes a point that any national identity espoused by your stance on Australia Day is never static. How does one day define us as a people?
Profile Image for Teghan.
33 reviews3 followers
November 14, 2022
DNF about a third into it.

Critique 1) Some of what he says is great, but then he'll swerve back on it. He's a very successful upper-middle class Australian, Aboriginal or not he's too comfortable with the status quo to properly critique current Australia. Even if his grief for the past is very real and well-written, he's acceptance and lack of imagination for the present/future is depressing.
He seems like just another ABC journalist who gets paid large amounts of money yet feels they're 'in touch' with poor Australians just because they work for the ABC, despite never experiencing it themselves.

Critique 2) It's this weird list-style writing that is trying so hard to be deep it ends up not saying much. It's the sort of writing that contradicts itself before it's even finished the paragraph and only gets away with it because it's considered moving.

Like, what does this even mean;
"Australia? What is Australia? A map? Lines marking the separation of states and territories? Is it history? Is it our laws? Is it politics? Do we define ourselves by what we have earned? All of this is how we mark time; that’s how a land becomes a nation: it is in the stories we tell. But not here. It is just this place. It is this dirt, these trees and rocks. It is a song, sung over and over and over until it seeps into the ground. In this place, there is no sign; no border; no line in the sand. There is nothing here really that tells us from where we have come, or to point to where we may yet go. In this place there is stillness and silence and forever: forever existing now as it always has."

...So are we land that's become a nation, or not here just a place of trees and rocks? Is it a song sung over and over or silence forever? Are we lines on a map or no line in the sand? I fear his answer would be both to everything! which makes for tedious writing.

This style of writing is WAY over-praised, particularly here in Australia. I genuinely want to read more Australian works, but the 'literary style' agreed upon by publishers and awards here just doesn't suit me. There are books with this style published in the US as well, but there is so MUCH published there that it's more easily avoided.
6 reviews
April 28, 2019
Stan Grant's 'Australia Day' is superb. Grant carefully wrestles with what it means for him to be an Indigenous (Wiradjuri) man in the current age. Grant avoids easy answers. His arguments are thoughtful and nuanced and speak to the heart of what it means for each of us, Indigenous or not, to be Australian.
At almost every page, there was something I felt was worth sharing; not always because I agreed, but because he beautifully describes the delicate synthesis of our Australian culture. However, because of the complexity of Grant's thoughts and the construction of his argument, he is--and I mean this as the greatest possible compliment--untweetable.
The best I can do is quote at length from his concluding chapter.

"Where is Australia? I have looked everywhere for her. Is she in Lake Mungo, that vanishing place where time turns in on itself? Is she in the boy Bennelong standing on a rock looking out to sea, waiting for the boats with wings to return? Is she in Captain Arthur Phillip whose world was turned upside down, who lost his sense of England and yet wondered if this land would ever open to welcome him? She is in the lost girls of Hanging Rock. She is in the doomed figure of Keneally's Jimmy Blacksmith, a man caught violently between black and white. We have painted her. We have sung songs to her. We have written her. We have shed our blood on her. We have shed blood for her.
Should we move Australia Day? Perhaps someday we will. Perhaps someday we will have settled our 'unfinished business'; but then, nations are forever unfinished; we write stories in our margins. For now, 26 January is all that we are. It is all that we are not. Australia lives in that tension; when we seek to neutralise that tension, we deny ourselves. Some have said we should commemorate 25 and 26 January; we should mark the before and after. It is a poignant and poetic idea, but it marks an ending and a beginning and I don't believe in that; we see what became before and what came after. I do not exist on 25 January. What happened on that day when the boats came to stay, that's what has made me. I live with it all."
June 17, 2021
Review at @the_diaspora_reader

I’m so glad to say I have finally finished “Australia Day”. This has been sitting on my shelf for a year since it first published last year 💫. Separated into 5 parts, it discusses the debate around changing Australia’s national day of celebration from January 26 (the day Cpt. Cook declared this land Terra Nullius), to a day that doesn’t symbolise such a moment. That’s just the tip of the ice berg. He unpacks race relations in general, Australia today and historically, the gap in equality, the triumph of a surviving people, and much more. •

This book was heartbreaking and hopeful. Informative and poetic. Uncomfortable and necessary. I enjoyed reading it so much. Grant is such an excellent writer. In terms of prose, wording, phrasing and sentence structure, he has something you’d cut your own hand off for 😭💕

I agreed with a lot of what he presented. And also learned to shift my own heart to love the place I live in without feeling it a betrayal to those who don’t always feel loved by it. I love Australia enough to believe we’re working to right it’s wrongs. •

I recommend this to every Australian. Using other Aboriginal writers, and American authors like Baldwin, Du Bois and Morrison, he explains the pain of being in a country that was never really created for you or your kin. Using the works of philosophers like Kant, he advocates for liberalism as a system he believes we need (when implemented correctly). And using his own history and genealogy he explains what Australia is to him. The systemic racism, exclusion and brutality committed on him + his own family members. But also, the opportunities, the non-Aboriginal kinships and his eventual ability to call it home. More so, the tangled web of being aware of both feelings constantly. •

So much to say, not enough words to say it. I recommend the audio book so you can hear the author talk about his family’s history, it’s powerful.
Profile Image for Merb.
512 reviews34 followers
June 6, 2020
Essential reading for Australian's I say. Or just anyone.
I don't want to say much as I am a white Australian who wants to amplify Indigenous voices, rather than insert my own. But I will suggest this, because it was heartfelt and honest, hitting the topic with a sense of hope despite the pain, but still being realistic about the struggles that come with being an Indigenous Australian in this modernised liberal society. It focuses it's discussion point on what Australia Day really means and if the date should be changed, whilst often coming back to his struggles with identity. I will post two quotes to let those speak for the novel itself and amplify Stan Grant's articulate and much needed voice.

"But then I think again how 97 per cent of kids locked up in the Northern Territory are black kids. I think of their parents too likely to have been behind bars. I think of their grandparents likely gone too soon, dead before their time. In this country Indigenous people die ten years younger than other Australians. I think of how suicide remains the single biggest cause of death for Indigenous people under the age of thirty-five. I think of Aboriginal women, forty-five times more likely to suffer domestic violence than their white sisters. An Aboriginal woman is more than ten times more liekly to be killed from violent assault. I think of the lives chained to generations of misery."

"How foolish to talk of identity that divides us. We cannot say that you are that and I am this. Our history, our blood, mocks us. There are so many others on all sides of my family, black and white. Who am I supposed to embrace, who do I deny? How far back do we go? At some point, geneticists tell us we all came from one place, a place in Africa. We moved across the globe, weaving in and out of each other's stories for tens of thousands of years, and that endless journey brought us here to this island and this is our home and we are a people."

Brilliant, educational and honest. Definitely something I will re-read and forever suggest.
Profile Image for Ellen.
Author 3 books26 followers
July 6, 2019
This was amazing to listen to it. I listened to it on buses in Gadigal country, and while driving in Kamilaroi country. I am trying to resist simply saying - go and listen to it, but this is what you should do. There is much power in the restraint which Stan Grant uses in his reading of this book, making each terrible event stark. This is a book which has a lot of tension between hope and despair, it also points to much other reading to explore, providing a thoughtful and nuanced view of history, as well as a call to action for all of us in Australia.

This is the third in the series of impressive titles I have listened to, which were written and read by journalists, following The Court Reporter and Any Ordinary Day: What Happens After the Worst Day of Your Life?.

Go and listen to this book, I borrowed it from my local library, and if your library does not have it to listen to, ask them to obtain it.

If you are not in Australia, this book would still be important to listen to.
Profile Image for emily.
20 reviews
January 30, 2023
i really enjoyed a large portion of this book, until i didn’t. many of the ruminations about liberalism felt contradictory — writing a love letter to the ‘possibilities’ of liberalism, after identifying mountains of harms it has created. saying that liberalism is ideal and malleable, while highlighting inherent racism in liberal philosophy. a view of protesting as almost bad, and the change the date movement as futile? while i understand this was largely a reckoning with personal views and experiences, i’m not sure what purpose it served for this book. i think the epilogue did a wonderful job of tying this book together, however, the parts which i did struggle with were almost enough to stop me from finishing this audiobook. overall a good read, although a somewhat confusing and contradictory one too.
Profile Image for Millie May.
243 reviews16 followers
July 7, 2019
There is something so beautiful and moving about Stan Grant’s work. It teaches you so much that you don’t know and really exposed me to things that have never crossed my mind about my own identity. Highly recommend for EVERYONE
Profile Image for Bec.
941 reviews22 followers
January 29, 2022
“Storytellers work with and against history. In history we find difference and conflict, yet the storyteller must find us in each other.”

I would like to pay my respects to the traditional custodians of this land and pay respects to the elders both past, present and emerging.

Stan Grant is man of many talents, he’s best known for his freedom speeches and travelling all over the country educating Australian’s about how racism is at the heart of our history. Grant always does a remarkable job at advocating for the indigenous community and planting the seed of change.

Who are we as a nation and how do we move forward from here? Educate yourself and know the facts.

This book is uncomfortable, raw and real. It forces one to question why we celebrate invasion day and the mass genocide or our nations indigenous people. No matter where you stand you’re on Aboriginal land.

Read the damn book.
Profile Image for Anna Baillie-Karas.
420 reviews47 followers
February 14, 2021
A thoughtful book about the issues Australia faces with its identity. Grant talks sensibly - but not without (justified) anguish at times - about the need to include Aboriginal stories in Australia’s history (most pointedly on Australia Day). His approach is inclusive, to enrich our country, rather than ‘one or the other’ reflecting his own combined identity. A great mix of big issues, intelligently handled, philosophy and personal story.
Profile Image for Ely.
1,321 reviews111 followers
January 29, 2021
There are a lot of different topics covered in these essays and at times, that made this a little overwhelming to read. There were a few times when I got a little lost as many of the essays cover so many different topics just within themselves, but overall, this is very thought-provoking and Stan Grant is a wonderful writer.
Profile Image for Eloise.
45 reviews2 followers
May 5, 2020
It was interesting, I felt like I was educated on a new perspective, however, it felt really repetitive, that’s why I took me a while to get through. Stan Grant is a talented writer though!
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