Must Read First Nations Literature

The abundance of talented First Nations writers in Australia is truly remarkable. Storytelling is such an important part of Aboriginal and Torres Islander culture, it has always formed the basis of education and cultural continuity through the passing of important stories and histories from generation to generation. Nowadays, many Indigenous storytellers share with us through writing. For this blog post, we’ve gathered five incredible books by Indigenous authors you must check out.

The Boy From the Mish

The Boy From the Mish. Courtesy of Allen Unwin, 2022.

The Boy From the Mish by Yuin author Gary Lonesborough is a must read for everyone, especially Indigenous boys and young adults finding their places in the world. It explores themes of queerness, masculinity, self acceptance and community (Indigenous X, 2022). The young adult story follows Jackson and the evolution of his relationship with a new mysterious boy in town. Throughout the story, Jackson must confront the changing shapes of his relationships with his friends, family and community (Good Reads, 2022). This novel provides much needed Indigenous queer representation, something that is desperately needed within Australia’s communities.

Swallow The Air

Swallow The Air. Courtesy of Reading Australia, 2022.

Released in 2006, Swallow The Air is award-winning Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch’s debut novel. In this novel, Winch tells the story of a broken family and their quest to belong. When May’s mother dies suddenly, she and her brother Billy are taken in by their Aunty. The siblings struggle living in a new town that doesn’t seem to want them. While Billy takes his own destructive path, May searches for somewhere she belongs, somewhere she can feel safe and whole. It is a story about the importance of belonging, resilience and the hope of reconnection (Booktopia, 2022).

Black and Blue

Black and Blue. Courtesy of Scribe Publications, 2022.

Black and Blue is a raw and real memoir by Gunai/Kurnai ex-policer Veronica Gorrie. It tells the story of the racism and sexism she experienced within the police force as one of the few Aboriginal officers in Australia (Indigenous X, 2022). Gorrie joined the police force because she saw her friends and family suffer under a deeply compromised law-enforcement system. During her 10 years in the force, she witnessed appalling institutional racism and sexism, all while she fought hard to provide compassionate service to civilians in need. Through this memoir, Veronica Gorrie shows remarkable resilience and wisdom, calling for ongoing action to improve Australia’s often unjust law enforcement system.


Throat. Courtesy of Sydney Review of Books, 2022.

Thoat is a heartfelt collection of poems by award-winning Mununjali Yugambeh writer Ellen Van Neerven. The poems explore identity and all of its nuances, deconstructing gender, love, language and history (Indigenous X, 2022). Throat is separated into five sections. The first three address memory and growing up, colonialism and queerness, and the fourth section is about speaking out and honouring female ancestors and women’s work. The final section follows recovery from break-up. Overall, the poems are fluid, seamlessly blending into one another (James Whitmore Reviews, 2020).

Design: Building On Country

Design: Building On Country. Courtesy of Art Gallery of NSW, 2022.

Design: Building On Country is a unique non-fiction book by Walbanga and Wadi Wadi woman Alison Page, Professor Paul Memmott and Margo Neale. It explores design principles from an Indigenous perspective. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander design is grounded in culture and Country. Indigenous peoples unique use of design can be seen through the aerodynamic boomerang, the ingenious design of fish traps and precise layouts of community settlements. The book shows how these design principles, grounded in function, sustainability and connection to the land, are now being applied to contemporary practices (Dymocks, 2022). 

If you’re in need of some further book recommendations check out our previous blog posts ‘Thought Provoking Holiday Reading by Indigenous Writers’ and First Nations Women Shine Bright at the QLD Literary Awards