WINNER OF THE MILES FRANKLIN AWARD 2011
Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is a fascinating, powerful portrait of Australia's earliest days.
That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.
The novel's hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.
But slowly - by design and by accident - things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are "accidents" and injuries on both sides.
As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby's Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia...
Winner of the ALS Gold Medal 2011
Winner of the WA Premier's Book Awards' Western Australia Premier's Prize 2010
Winner of the WA Premier's Book Awards' Award for Fiction 2010
Winner of the VIC Premier's Literary Awards' Victorian Prize for Literature 2011
Winner of the VIC Premier's Literary Awards' Prize for Fiction 2011
Winner of the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature Premier's Award 2012
Winner of the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature Fiction Award 2012
Winner of the Kate Challis RAKA Award 2011
Regional Winner of the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book 2011