It’s thrilling to have the opportunity to read and review a world first (thank you UQP Books for the review copy!). This All Come Back Now is the very first collection of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander speculative fiction – written, curated, edited, and designed from top to bottom by First Nations people. How cool is that?
The collection’s curator and editor, Mykaela Saunders, offers an illuminating Overture at the outset. She makes clear that it’s important we correctly hierarchise the labels we apply to this collection of work: they are First Nations stories first, stories that center and celebrate First Nations culture, community, and country, using spec-fic literary techniques and tropes.
I was thrilled to see that This All Come Back Now included work from some of my favourite local writers – including Evelyn Araluen and Alison Whittaker – as well as a bunch of new-to-me names. I was truly captivated by Ellen Van Neerven’s Water, and I found Adam Thompson’s Your Own Aboriginie brilliantly unsettling in the lead-up to the federal election. As with so many of the stories in this collection, it wasn’t far enough beyond the pale for comfort.
I’m sure other reviewers will provide an excellent run-down of the trigger warnings (racism, obviously, and violence, mental illness, etc), but I selfishly wanted to add my own traditional heads-up regarding the death of a dog in John Morrisey’s Five Minutes (it’s an excellent story, a highlight of the collection, but it helps to know what’s coming).
Ultimately, though, I think it’s important that you don’t rely on my (white) reading of This All Come Back Now. Listen to First Nations readers when they share their thoughts, and read it for yourself to learn and understand. This carefully curated collection is, of course, by and for First Nations people, but it’s required reading for all who live in the colony.
Timely reminder: Keeping Up With The Penguins is a project undertaken on the lands of the Gadigal people, of the Eora nation.
Buy This All Come Back Now on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)