One of the highlights of The Yield is the way Winch conjures the specific texture of home, the expectation that it will always remain the same, and the feeling when it doesn’t. There is an exactness to her phrasing as she writes that being home means being seen, having a witness, and bearing witness ... Throughout The Yield, the poetic eloquence is more polished than the writing in Swallow the Air, unmistakably the work of a more mature writer. The descriptions are consistently inspired ... The humorous undercurrent to some of Winch’s short stories has no place here, and this is a more serious work than her previous books – but while she may have developed a more sophisticated style, her work is no less vivid, and this is an astonishingly elegant and powerful second novel.
... engaging ... Even with a slightly pat ending, this thread of Winch’s narrative is irresistible, as she offers the reader both a tactile and spiritual feel for the forbidding landscape. Her portrayal of August’s rediscovery of herself and her ties to her home is moving. She presents the legacy of oppression and strife among local indigenous people and European settlers with great nuance...But it’s when this initial thread intertwines with two other storylines that the novel fully realizes itself ... Winch, an award-winning Aboriginal Australian writer who is now based in France, uses this dictionary of recovered indigenous words to transmit the deeper story of Gondiwindi family history. We read it—and the novel as a whole—with both sorrow and hope.
... wily, appealing ... While there is no shortage of darkness in The Yield, both in August’s life and in the history of Massacre Plains (which has its name for a reason), the writing is disarmingly chatty and casual, almost familial in its confidences. Most readers will be cheering on the characters by the time of the somewhat tidy resolution. Australia’s past may be stained with blood—or guwany, in the native tongue—but that also means that it once pulsed with a living tradition.
... moving ... Laced into this rich catalogue of words, each one offering a glimpse of a civilisation that the colonisers of the land worked so hard to eradicate, are two other narratives ... This is a novel full of the spaces in between. Much of the brutality is revealed glancingly ... has all the more power to shock because Winch has built her novel with subtlety and strength. This is a complex, satisfying book, both story and testimony. The Yield works to reclaim a history that never should have been lost in the first place.
Three distinct narratives bind together Winch’s riveting story of Australia’s Indigenous people ... The Aborigines’ story is one of yielding, of not taking from the land but of bending to the will of others, a tragic picture of the Australian colonial period. Winch makes a strong statement, beautifully rendered.
Winch unravels the Gondiwindi family history through August’s narrative, August’s grandfather’s native-language dictionary entries, and the letters of 1915 missionary Reverend Ferdinand Greenleaf. Through their perspectives, Winch illustrates the long history of colonization and erasure of Indigenous culture in Australia. The unique structure draws readers close while grounding the novel in history. Already a best-seller in Australia, Winch’s second novel is a clear-eyed look at the experiences of native people and the ways in which history is inherited through generations.
... angry, elegiac ... Greenleaf’s long letter describing mission history is heavily expository, while August’s section is where the plot lives, and it’s enlivened by dialogue with her family. The strongest chapters are from Albert, in narratives framed as dictionary entries of his ancestors and their disappearing culture. While the shifts in narrator interrupt the flow, Winch succeeds at contextualizing August’s story with cultural history. The result is often quite moving.