From an Aboriginal ranger trying to instill some pride in wayward urban teens on the harsh islands off the coast of Tasmania, to those scraping by on the margins of white society railroaded into complex and compromised decisions, Adam Thompson presents an indictment of colonialism and racism.
Punchy and uncompromising ... may be fictional, but there’s no doubting the emotional truth and grit at the core of these stories. It’s a potent collection by an author who mined the richness of both his ancestry, his work within the Aboriginal community and his island home for tales about black and white relations, colonialism, class friction, racism and the despoilment of heritage and environment ... Indigenous culture and politics – all the blurry nuances of categorisation and identity – are explored with forensic delicacy that belies the power behind the hand ... Tonally, Born Into This moves with fluid versatility, from righteous anger to sly satire ... With its wit, intelligence and restless exploration of the parameters of race and place, Thompson’s debut collection is a welcome addition to the canon of Indigenous Australian writers of the calibre of Tony Birch, Melissa Lucashenko, Tara June Winch and Ellen van Neerven ... It serves as a salient reminder that there is no monolithic Aboriginal Australian; the book thrums with a cacophony of voices and experiences. Some of his characters hide their vulnerability and loss amid fronts of machismo, others are more like tinnies bobbing in a raging ocean beyond their control. Like the native trees being razed, they were 'born into a hostile world and expected to thrive'. This book bears witness to their struggles.
This remarkable debut crackles with wit, swagger and rage –- as entertaining and affecting as it is thought-provoking -– and assuredly introduces Aboriginal (pakana) writer Adam Thompson as a fresh new voice to follow in the Australian fiction landscape ... These 16 tight and punchy stories are distinctly Tasmanian ... Every encounter in this collection is charged with tension and energy; Thompson’s dialogue sparks on the page. Yet while the stories in Born Into This are all driven by their human conflicts, each protagonist’s relationship to their environment (both urban and natural) is deeply considered and fully realised. Thompson leaves the reader with a profound sense of what we’re losing when it comes to both the damage and disappearance of our native environment and the cultural practices that rely on its survival ... not only stands out as an engaging short-story collection from an exciting young writer, but will open readers’ minds to the diverse lived experiences of First Nations people. I hope we are all approaching the year ahead with a strengthened resolve to listen deeply and actively to First Nations Australians so that we may better advocate for justice and equality in this country. This is vital storytelling that we should all be reading, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
... one of the strengths and pleasures of the collection is the evocation of the landscape and climate of the islands ... These stories are by turns fierce, lyrical, suspenseful (‘Aboriginal Alcatraz’), whimsical (‘Morpork’) and poignant (‘Jack’s Island’, ‘Sonny’). They can be unabashedly political (‘Invasion Day’, ‘Kite’), but also explore the complexities of relationships both within the Aboriginal community and between black and white ... Adam Thompson writes with passion and verve, and Born into This brims with insight and hard truths in stories that are vividly drawn and frequently compelling.