Book Talk: The Yield: A Novel by Tara June Winch
“ A beautifully written novel that puts language at the heart of remembering the past and understanding the present.”
About the Book
A young Australian woman searches for her grandfather's dictionary, the key to halting a mining company from destroying her family's home and ancestral land in this exquisitely written, heartbreaking, yet hopeful novel of culture, language, tradition, suffering, and empowerment in the tradition of Louise Erdrich, Sandra Cisneros, and Amy Harmon.
Knowing that he will soon die, Albert “Poppy” Gondiwindi has one final task he must fulfill. A member of the indigenous Wiradjuri tribe, he has spent his adult life in Prosperous House and the town of Massacre Plains, a small enclave on the banks of the Murrumby River. Before he takes his last breath, Poppy is determined to pass on the language of his people, the traditions of his ancestors, and everything that was ever remembered by those who came before him. The land itself aids him; he finds the words on the wind.
After his passing, Poppy’s granddaughter, August, returns home from Europe, where she has lived the past ten years, to attend his burial. Her overwhelming grief is compounded by the pain, anger, and sadness of memory―of growing up in poverty before her mother’s incarceration, of the racism she and her people endured, of the mysterious disappearance of her sister when they were children; an event that has haunted her and changed her life. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends and honor Poppy and her family, she vows to save their land―a quest guided by the voice of her grandfather that leads into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river.
Told in three masterfully woven narratives, The Yield is a celebration of language and an exploration of what makes a place "home." A story of a people and a culture dispossessed, it is also a joyful reminder of what once was and what endures―a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling, and identity, that offers hope for the future.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ This is a tremendously uplifting story despite the ugliness upon which it has been built - the massacres and dispossession of land - of children stolen away - of language forbidden. It is a story of hope - of finding pride - of those who have gone before and begun the process of rebuilding. The author has built aspects of this story from similar historical events - for those who are widely read in the history of the British colonial invasion of this land - And the massacres and the dispossession of land and for me - recognising a number of the names and places this story uses in this fictional novel. Reading through the dictionary of Wiradjuri language at the conclusion of the novel I was surprised at the (relatively) large number of words I recognised - for animals and features of landscape. And so wishing I were far younger and living near Dr Grant and able to take his classes!"
—Jim Kable, Amazon Reader's Review
“ The humorous undercurrent to some of Winch’s short stories has no place here, and this is a more serious work than her previous books – but while she may have developed a more sophisticated style, her work is no less vivid, and this is an astonishingly elegant and powerful second novel."
—The Sydney Morning Herald
“ The Yield sings up language, history, home, blood - all the important stuff."
—Paul Kelly, author of How to Make Gravy
“ A work of immense scope and sensitivity.” —Jessie Cole, author of Deeper Water
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Tara June Winch is the Wiradjuri author of novel Swallow the Air and short story collection After the Carnage. For her first novel, she was named a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist and received mentorship from Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka as part of the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She was born in Australia in 1983 and currently lives in France with her family.