Position Doubtful: Mapping Landscapes and Memories

Front Cover
Scribe Publications, 2016 - Aboriginal Australians - 336 pages
Imagine the document you have before you is not a book but a map. It is well-used, creased, and folded, so that when you open it, no matter how carefully, something tears and a line that is neither latitude nor longitude opens in the hidden geography of the place you are about to enter.

Since the publication of her prize-winning memoir Craft for a Dry Lake,in 2000, writer and artist Kim Mahood has been returning to the Tanami desert country in far north-western Australia where, as a child, she lived with her family on a remote cattle station. The land is timeless, but much has changed- the station has been handed back to its traditional owners; the mining companies have arrived; and Aboriginal art has flourished.

Comedy and tragedy, familiarity and uncertainty are Mahood's constant companions as she immerses herself in the life of a small community and in groundbreaking mapping projects. What emerges in Position Doubtfulis a revelation of the significance of the land to its people - and of the burden of history.

Mahood is an artist of astonishing versatility. She works with words, with paint, with installations, and with performance art. Her writing about her own work and collaborations, and about the work of the desert artists, is profoundly enlightening, making palpable the link between artist and country.

This is a beautiful and intense exploration of friendships, landscape, and homecoming. Written with great energy and humour, Position Doubtfuloffers a unique portrait of the complexities of black and white relations in contemporary Australia.


'Position Doubtfulis entrancing and different; it is poetic, gritty, confronting, and inspiring all at once, and offers a rare and valuable window onto Aboriginal Australia.'
- Tom Griffiths, Australian Book Review 'Best Books of 2016'


'Mahood is a writer of country. Her chapters unfurl like the ribbons of red dune ... The rich pulse of country makes the heart quake with recognition. Position Doubtfulhas the scale and delicacy of desert and records genuine Aboriginal voice and emotion.'
- Bruce Pascoe, award-winning author of Dark Emu, Fog a Dox, and Convincing Ground


'My book of the year ... If anyone's written more beautifully and modestly about this country and its people I'm not aware of it. I think it's a treasure.'
- Tim Winton,The Age 'Best Books of 2016'

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Position Doubtful

User Review  - Thorpe-Bowker and Contributors - Books+Publishing

Artist and writer Kim Mahood grew up on Tanami Downs Station in the Northern Territory. She has always felt the strong pull of the land and its Indigenous people, and has been returning over the years ... Read full review

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About the author (2016)

Kim Mahood: Kim Mahood is a writer and artist based in Wamboin, near Canberra, whose 2000 memoir, Craft for a Dry Lake, won the NSW Premier's Award for non-fiction and the Age Book of the Year for non-fiction. Her artwork is held in state, territory, and regional collections, and her essays have appeared in Griffith Review, Meanjin, and The Best Australian Essays. In 2013, she was awarded the Peter Blazey Fellowship for a non-fiction work in progress, and was shortlisted for the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. In 2014, she was awarded the H C Coombs Fellowship.

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