The winner of the Award for 2021 is Truganini by Cassandra Pybus.
The story of Truganini, a Nuenonne woman from Bruny Island off Tasmania, is shrouded in myth for almost two centuries. In this clear-eyed work, Pybus charts the ‘agonising accretion of unspeakable loss’ endured by Truganini, her people and other clans in 1800s colonial Tasmania. Drawn from first-person accounts by missionary George Augustus Robinson and contemporaries, Truganini emerges here as neither ‘antipodean Pocahontas’ nor witless captive. After witnessing the murder and abduction of her family members, she is betrayed time and again before dying in Hobart in 1876.
The judges unanimously agreed that Truganini is the standout work in an impressive field. The restoration of its subject elevates this book. Truganini’s voice has been lost in the self-serving narrative of modern Australia. Reclamation is an outstanding accomplishment for any subject, and a thrilling one for an Indigenous woman who stood against an empire.
Truganini has been reviewed in these pages. To read the review, go to – Truganini by Cassandra Pybus – Queensland Reviewers Collective