Newspaper article #3
Dark Places in a Country Built on Lies
Reviewed By LARISSA BEHRENDT
.... Morgan's [book] is
distasteful, insulting and outrageous.
When first self-published, Morgan's book claimed to be nonfiction. Now, with
HarperCollins on the spine, it has become fiction. I think it always was
It tells how Morgan came to Australia to help urban Aborigines set up a
business. She is abducted by a tribe of desert-dwelling Aborigines who take
on a three-month walkabout. It's revealed to her that she is the soul partner
of "The Elder" of the tribe. She is taken to a secret underground
all the treasures of the Dreamtime are kept and told that the tribe will have
no more children because the world is destroying itself.
Morgan says her book is being sold as fiction, not because her claims can't be
substantiated but to protect the Aborigines in the book from "legal
implications". I can assure her there are no legal implications for the
indigenous people mentioned. Her disclaimer has little to do with her story's
As for the detail ...
She calls us "half-breeds", yet anyone who spends any time with
Aboriginal communities knows we have no notion of half- or quarter-caste.
either Aboriginal or you're not; it depends on how you identify yourself, not
on the amount of blood.
The pity is that Morgan rightly asserts that non-indigenous people can learn
many things from indigenous culture. We knew about protecting the
environment and we know the secret medicinal qualities of the flora around us.
Western society ignores or devalues both.
If the book is being hyped as fiction, do inconsistencies and improbabilities
matter? Yes, because the book, replete with cultural insensitivity,
perpetuates myths and stereotypes.
We don't need people thinking that cannibalism was part of our culture. We
don't need to be thought of as "silly uneducated folks" or a dying
don't have names like Sewing Master, Big Music, Story Teller and Tool Maker.
We don't all want to marry white people so that our children will have
lighter skin and be more able to integrate; we're not ashamed of our culture
or our skin. And we don't need American tourists seeking spiritual
enlightenment and thinking they can suck it from our culture.
Morgan manipulates our culture's values and ideas in support of her own
beliefs, hoping her audience will know no better. That's reprehensible, even
when disguised as fiction. As an Australian Aborigine - Morgan would call me a
half-breed - I am angered by her lame, hideous attempt to cloak her lack of
integrity in fiction.
Sydney Morning Herald