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