The Settlement

    • 4.3 • 3 Ratings
    • $16.99
    • $16.99

Publisher Description

On the windswept point of an island at the edge of van Diemen’s Land, the Commandant huddles with a small force of white men and women.

He has gathered together, under varying degrees of coercion and duress, the last of the Tasmanians, or so he believes. His purpose is to save them—from a number of things, but most pressingly from the murderous intent of the pastoral settlers on their country.

The orphans Whelk and Pipi, fighting for their survival against the malevolent old man they know as the Catechist, watch as almost everything about this situation proves resistant to the Commandant’s will. The wind, the spread of disease, the strange black dog that floats in on the prow of a wrecked ship…

But above all the Chief, the leader of the exiles, before whom the Commandant performs a perverse, intimate dance of violence and betrayal.

In The Settlement, Jock Serong reimagines in urgent, compelling prose the ill-fated exploits of George Augustus Robinson at the settlement of Wybalenna—a venture whose blinkered, self-interested cruelty might stand for the colonial enterprise itself.

Jock Serong’s novels have received the ARA Historical Novel Prize, the Colin Roderick Award, the Ned Kelly Award for First Fiction and, internationally, the inaugural Staunch Prize (UK) and the Historia Award for Historical Crime Fiction (France). He lives with his family on Victoria’s far west coast.

The Settlement is a shocking but perversely beautiful evocation of the endurance and dignity of Aboriginal resistance to the sadism of the colony’s God and guns. Its gripping plot, extraordinary Black and white characters, and elegant prose will haunt you long after the last page.' Paul Daley, author of Jesustown and Guardian writer

'There is some kind of magic in the way Jock Serong conjures places and times and people.' Lucy Treloar

Fiction & Literature
30 August
The Text Publishing Company
Text Publishing

Customer Reviews

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The author is an Australian lawyer turned writer, who lives on the south coast of Victoria, edits a literary journal and writes novels, of which this is number 6. The first three were contemporary, the others historical related to early white settlement in Australia.
This one is based around George Augustus Robinson, who ran the settlement on Flinders Island where the last of the Tasmanian First Nations peoples were sent after rampant white settlers had thinned their numbers perilously close to extinction. Long story short, the leftovers didn’t do too well on Flinders Island either, although the aforementioned Robinson (The Commandant in this book) maintained he was doing a great job. (Depends on your perspective, I suppose).
Real life aboriginal characters including Truganinni, Woorady and Mannalargenna feature, along with an unpleasant and inept doctor (The Surgeon) and a malevolent priest (The Catchiest). The First Nations perspective is provided by a young boy named Whelk, whom the Storekeeper/Surveyor, the only half way decent white fella, ties to protect. Suffice it to say, some mighty unpleasant stuff happens, mainly to the First Nations people, although the Catechist gets a nasty comeuppance.
The pace is slow, the prose finely crafted as I have come to expect from Mr Serong, but the content more challenging to read than anything of his I have read before.

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