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Giramondo Publishing is renowned for the quality and diversity of its books, across fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Its award-winning authors include Alexis Wright, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Felicity Castagna, and Judith Beveridge, all of whom have been taught in high school classrooms.

Giramondo is delighted to introduce teachers to The F Team by Rawah Arja, a Young Adult novel set in Western Sydney and written for reluctant readers. The novel explores male anger and its consequences, and the way anger might be connected, mistakenly, with identity and loyalty, and how it must come to terms with the complex demands of love and friendship, and the responsibilities of leadership.


The F Team by Rawah Arja

The F Team
by Rawah Arja

Genre: YA fiction

Year level: Lower to upper secondary; particularly appropriate for reluctant male readers

Themes: Male anger, responsibility, appreciation of consequences, loyalty, family, cross-cultural understanding, growing up in Western Sydney, team work, belonging, identity, friendship

Note from the author:

I observed in different boys’ high schools for weeks to get a better understanding of why reading to them seemed like a school chore.

‘We’re either the terrorists or we’re the bad guy with a big beard,’ one boy said to me. He was talking about the news but still, this idea was prevalent amongst most of the boys I talked to.

The answer was simple. If I wrote a book where I ignited their senses i.e., they could visualise the places, they could feel and connect to the diverse characters and created plotlines without explosions, then maybe they’d not only read my book, I’d inspire them to read the many wonderful Australian books out there, they’ve missed out on.

In short, I wanted to create a story that any child of a minority would feel proud of and know they matter. They matter to me; they matter to their community and school, and most importantly, they will see themselves as worthy to be in print. They will be inspired to take ownership of their narrative rather than sit idly by while the world tells their stories.

Resources: Study notes for secondary (PDF)


Inside My Mother by Ali Cobby Eckermann

Inside My Mother by Ali Cobby Eckermann

Genre: Poetry

Year level: Upper secondary, Year 12

Themes: Aboriginal history and culture, Stolen Generations, identity, tradition, memory, place and connection to place, family, dispossession

Cultural significance: Eckermann is a Yankunytjatjara / Kokatha woman, the third generation of daughters in her family to have been taken from their mothers; her experiences of separation and reunion have informed her writing. After the publication of Inside My Mother, Eckermann received the Windham Campell, a significant international award and the world’s richest literary prize. 

Resources:


The Incredible Here and Now by Felicity Castagna

Genre: YA fiction

Year level: Middle secondary

Themes: Sense of place (Western Sydney), coping with death, grief, family relationships across the generations, adolescence , young male protagonist, forms of storytelling

Cultural significance: The novel was awarded the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction and shortlisted for the CBCA awards.

Resources:

  • Felicity Castagna has developed a teaching program around The Incredible Here and Now, accessible via her website.
  • Reading notes

Carpentaria by Alexis Wright

Carpentaria
by Alexis Wright

Genre: Fiction, novel

Year level: Upper secondary

Themes: Aboriginal history and culture, the power of the land, dispossession, the representation of time, Sustainability, magic realism, Aboriginal spirituality, the importance of stories

Cultural significance: An epic set in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and now regarded as a classic of Australian literature, Carpentaria won the Miles Franklin Literary Award and many other literary prizes, and has been published in the US, UK, Italy, France, Poland and China.

Resources:


Sun Music: New and Selected Poems by Judith Beveridge

Genre: Poetry

Year level: Lower to upper secondary

Themes: The intricate details of the natural world, humanity’s relationship with animals, the value of life, Buddhism, the power of observation, poetic form

Cultural significance: Judith Beveridge is one of Australia’s most acclaimed poets; her poems are taught in high schools and universities, and Sun Music, which won the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry, brings together some of her best-loved poems and new, illuminating works.


The Tribe by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

The Tribe
by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Genre: Fiction 

Year level: Middle to upper secondary

Themes: Identity, family, belonging, Arab Australian culture, Western Sydney

Cultural significance: A detailed portrayal of an extended Lebanese-Australian family (‘the tribe’), told from the point of view of a young boy who is both innocent and aware of what is going on around him.

Resources:


Look Who’s Morphing by Tom Cho

Genre: Short stories

Year level: Upper secondary, Year 12

Themes: identity, transformation, gender, intertextuality, pop culture, migrant experience

Cultural significance: A cult classic, in which stories from popular culture (The Sound of Music, Godzilla) are retold as fables of identity and transformation.

Resources:


Small Acts of Disappearance by Fiona Wright

Genre: Essays

Year level: Upper secondary

Themes: Illness/health, identity, gender, body image, essay writing

Cultural significance: A collection of essays which explores anorexia and other eating disorders, its effects on behaviour and psychology, and its representations in literature.


The Burning Elephant by Christopher Raja

The Burning Elephant
by Christopher Raja

Genre: Fiction

Year level: Middle secondary

Themes: Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, religious violence, family tragedy, young male point of view

Cultural significance: A novel set in India in the period leading up to the assassination of Indira Gandhi, told from the point of view of a young boy who will subsequently migrate with his father to Australia.


The Swan Book by Alexis Wright

The Swan Book
by Alexis Wright

Genre: Fiction

Year level: Middle to upper secondary 

Themes: Sustainability, degradation of the environment, refugees, climate change, Aboriginal relation to the land, storytelling as a form of repair

Cultural significance: Now regarded as a literary classic, The Swan Book places the refugee crisis and Indigenous politics in the context of climate change, which brings upheaval to every aspect of Australian life.


No More Boats by Felicity Castagna

No More Boats
by Felicity Castagna

Genre: Fiction

Year level: Middle to upper secondary

Themes: Immigration, fear of invasion, racism, xenophobia

Cultural significance: Set during the Tampa Affair in 2001, the novel addresses the Australian immigrant’s fear of being swamped by a new generation of refugees, and the tensions this produces in his family.


The House of Youssef by Yumna Kassab

Genre: Short stories

Year level: Middle to upper secondary

Themes: Immigrant experience, nostalgia, dealing with Australian cultural values, tradition and family life

Cultural significance: Stories about the lives of Lebanese-Australian immigrants in Western Sydney, told in a minimalist style which heightens their emotional effect. Longlisted for the Stella Prize, and shortlisted for the Victorian and NSW Premiers Literary Awards.


The Hijab Files by Maryam Azam

Genre: Poetry

Year level: Lower to upper secondary

Themes: Muslim identity, belonging, tradition and modernity, prejudice, racism

Cultural significance: Collection of poems which takes the wearing of the hijab as a starting point for the examination of belief and the importance of ritual, and the reactions of others to Muslim identity.


Flood Damages by Eunice Andrada

Flood Damages
by Eunice Andrada

Genre: Poetry

Year level: Lower to upper secondary

Themes: Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, Filipino-Australian identity, domestic violence, inherited illness, immigration and deportation, the female body

Cultural significance: This collection features poems that deal with the importance of family life under the threat of deportation and domestic abuse, and the centrality of the body to female experience.


This Water: Fives Tales by Beverley Farmer

Genre: Short stories

Year level: Middle to upper secondary

Themes: women and power, fairy tales, relationships, the natural elements (especially water), forms of storytelling, history and tradition

Cultural significance: This is a series of five different kinds of story revolving around the experiences of women – fable, fairy tale, legend, lament and fantasy – by one of the pioneers of contemporary women’s writing.


Anguli Ma: a Gothic Tale by Chi Vu

Genre: Novella, fiction

Year level: Middle to upper secondary

Themes: Migrant experience, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia, community, storytelling

Cultural significance: A ghost story adapted from a Vietnamese folk tale which tells of the hidden aspects of the lives of immigrants in Melbourne. Set for the International Baccalaureate.

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