‘There are books you encounter as an adult that you wish you could press into the hands of your younger self. Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray is one of those books – a novel that turns Australia’s long-mythologised settler history into a raw and resilient heartsong.' – Guardian
*** WINNER 2022 NSW PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARD INDIGENOUS WRITER'S PRIZE***
***2022 ABIA SHORTLIST***
***2021 ARA HISTORICAL NOVEL PRIZE SHORTLIST***
*** 2022 STELLA PRIZE LONGLIST***
***2022 INDIE BOOK AWARDS LONGLIST***
***2022 VICTORIAN PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARDS HIGHLY COMMENDED***
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?
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.
Praise for Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams)
'Heiss fuses fiction with realism, conjuring a resonance still felt in Blak struggle today ... packs heart into every page.' – Saturday Paper
'Tells a powerful and affecting tale of Aboriginal people's identity, community and deep connection to country.’ – Canberra Times
'A profoundly moving showcase of Heiss’ skill ... Intimate, reflective, and impossible to put down.’ – AU Review
‘Engrossing and wonderful storytelling. I really loved these strong, brave Wiradyuri characters.’ – Melissa Lucashenko
‘A powerful story of family, place and belonging.’ – Kate Grenville
‘A remarkable story of courage and a love of country ... Anita Heiss writes with heart and energy on every page.’ – Tony Birch
'It is a love story, a story of loss, a hopeful story. The river is a guide, but you have to be open to its spiritual lessons.' – Terri Janke
‘Anita Heiss is at the height of her storytelling powers in this inspiring, heart-breaking, profound tale.’ – Larissa Behrendt
'The novel flows like the great Murrumbidgee River itself, with powerful undercurrents that sweep the reader along - I feel it's a book that all Australians should read, to try and understand why our colonial past still causes so much pain and grievance.’ – Kate Forsyth
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Retelling a dramatic moment in colonial history from an Indigenous perspective, Anita Heiss’ novel (the title translates to ‘River of Dreams’) is set in the country town of Gundagai, in New South Wales, during the 1850s. As young Wiradyuri woman Wagadhaany toils as a servant, other Aboriginal workers are similarly exploited to benefit the town’s white population. Following the traumatic flooding of the town’s river, the novel examines racism, sexism and inequality while doubling as a moving and far-reaching love story. Based on true events and interspersed with Wiradyuri language, it’s a memorable and eye-opening tale.