That Deadman Dance

That Deadman Dance (2010) by Kim Scott, a scholar and a descendant of the Noongar people of Western Australia, published by picadoraustralia, won among many awards, the 2011 Miles Franklin award for Literature. I am embarrassed to admit though that had this book not been on the reading list for my Australian Literature unit during my undergraduate degree I might not have ever read it. That Deadman Dance is an exquisite reimagining of a first contact story told through both a white and an indigenous perspective and asks some big questions through the detailed creative showing (and not didactically) of what transpired. Scott depicts the gamut of human character in both races and leaves the reader with an overwhelming sense and a better understanding of the missed opportunities of our past. The heartbreaking glimpse of what could have been has stayed with me, years after the first reading. “We learned your words and songs and stories and never knew you didn’t want to hear ours.” As readers we can choose what we read with consideration, we can choose with a willingness to listen to perspectives that are different to our own lived experience. What we read is an integral path to learning from the past so we can do better tomorrow.