A Kindness Cup

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Publisher Description

I told them to go into the scrub and disperse the tribe.

Disperse? That is a strange word. What do you mean by dispersing?

Firing at them.

Two decades after a massacre of local Aboriginal people, the former residents of a Queensland town have reunited to celebrate the progress and prosperity of their community. Tom Dorahy, returning to his hometown, is having none of it: he wants those responsible to own up to their actions. A reckoning with oppression, guilt and the weight of the past, A Kindness Cup is one of Thea Astley’s greatest achievements.

Thea Beatrice May Astley was born in Brisbane in 1925. She attended All Hallows, a Catholic school in Fortitude Valley, before studying arts at the University of Queensland. Astley trained to be a teacher and, on marrying Jack Gregson in 1948, moved to Sydney and worked in a number of schools. The pair had a son, Ed.

In 1958 Astley’s first novel, Girl with a Monkey, was published. Over the next four decades she published a work of fiction every few years. Her novels and short stories are distinguished by vivid imagery and metaphor; a complex, ironic style; and a desire to highlight oppression and social injustice.

Astley won the Miles Franklin Literary Award for The Well Dressed Explorer (1962), her third novel. Many notable books followed, among them the groundbreaking A Kindness Cup (1974), which addressed frontier massacres of Indigenous Australians, and It’s Raining in Mango (1987).

In the latest 1960s Astley took up a position at Macquarie University, where she worked until 1980, when she began to write full-time. She and Gregson moved to North Queensland, returning to New South Wales later that decade.

Astley won the 1989 Patrick White Award and became an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1992. Her last novel was Drylands (1999), her fourth Miles Franklin winner and first since 1972.

A lifelong chain-smoker famed for her sharp wit, Thea Astley died in 2004, the year after her husband died. She remains one of the most distinctive and influential Australian novelists of the twentieth century.

‘Smart, compassionate.’ New York Times

‘One of the earliest and most empathetic postwar engagements by a white Australian writer with the horrors of nineteenth-century racial violence.’ Australian Book Review 

‘This timely and attractively priced reissue is a welcome chance to reconsider [Astley’s] rich oeuvre. Astley’s work is characterised by her irony and unflinching scrutiny of social injustice. In A Kindness Cup, she was at the top of her impressive form…This short novel is one of Australia’s finest.’ Stuff NZ

Fiction & Literature
30 April
The Text Publishing Company
Text Publishing

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