, 2000 - Fiction
- 256 pages
A young school teacher is posted to a remote Aboriginal community, and through his experiences, his encounter with the local people, his discovery of the history of the community, his own history and his Aboriginality are revealed.
Like many others in the novel, Billy is struggling to find a meaningful cultural identity and to create a better future from the wreckage of the recent history of Aboriginal people. What he finds at Karnama is a disintegrating community, characterised by government handouts, alcoholism, wife-beating, petrol-sniffing and an indifference to traditional beliefs and practices. It is a depressingly familiar litany of social problems which confirms the smug racial stereotypes of the white community to which Billy initially belongs.
True Country offers no clear-cut solution to the realities of powerlessness. What it leaves us with is Billy's vision of the 'true country' which he shares with the unnamed Aboriginal narrator in the final pages of the novel.