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From Kim Scott, two-times winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, comes a work charged with ambition and poetry, in equal parts brutal, mysterious and idealistic, about a young woman cast into a drama that has been playing for over two hundred years . . .

Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar's descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife's dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations.

But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged.

We walk with the ragtag group through this taboo country and note in them glimmers of re-connection with language, lore, country. We learn alongside them how countless generations of Noongar may have lived in ideal rapport with the land. Taboo won four literary awards, was longlisted for four and shortlisted for three more. It is a novel of survival and renewal, as much as destruction; and, ultimately, of hope as much as despair.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 152 x 226 x 25mm | 476g
  • English
  • 1618731696
  • 9781618731692
  • 709,308

Review quote

Winner of the NSW Premier's Award Book of the Year 2018
Winner of the NSW Premier's Indigenous Writer's Prize 2018
Winner of the University of Queensland Fiction Book Award 2018
Winner of the Victorian Premier's Literacy Award for Indigenous Writing 2019

Praise for Taboo

"In this potent, ghostly book, Scott, part of the Noongar people of Western Australia, tells what happens when a group of Noongar return to the site of a massacre which followed the killing of a white man for kidnapping a black woman. The book wrestles with the haunt of history, and poetry lives on each page. 'Now his own house was haunted, and he was glad.' In the taboo farmland, the group reckon with language and connection, and what reconciling with the past means for the present. They face the way the history and its sins live on, and how rebirth demands destruction. 'Death is only one part of a story that is forever beginning, ' Scott writes."-- Nina McLaughlin, Boston Globe

"Deeply acclaimed upon its initial release in Australia, Kim Scott's novel Taboofollows a group of characters revisiting the site of several acts of historical violence. In doing so, Scott charts the complexities of pain, forgiveness, and the sins of the past--often in harrowing ways."-- Vol. 1, Brooklyn

"If Benang was the great novel of the assimilation system, and That Deadman Dance redefined the frontier novel in Australian writing, Taboo makes a strong case to be the novel that will help clarify--in the way that only literature can--what reconciliation might mean" --Australian Book Review

"Scott's book is stunning--haunted and powerful. . . . Verdict: Must Read." --Herald Sun

"Remarkable." --Stephen Romei, Weekend Australian

"Stunning prose." --Saturday Paper

"This is a complex, thoughtful, and exceptionally generous offering by a master storyteller at the top of his game." --The Guardian

"Undaunted, and daring as ever Scott goes back to his ancestral Noongar country in Western Australia's Great Southern region; back in time as well to killings (or a massacre, the point is contested) of whites and Aborigines there in 1880 . . . Taboo never becomes a revenge story, whether for distant or recent wrongs . . . The politics of Taboo--not to presume or simplify too much--are quietist, rather than radical. Ambitious, unsentimental [and] morally challenging." --Sydney Morning Herald

"Scott is one of the most thoughtful, exciting and powerful storytellers of this continent today, with great courage and formidable narrative prowess--and Taboo is his most daring novel yet." --Sydney Review of Books
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About Kim Scott

Kim Scott is a multi-award winning novelist. Benang was the first novel by an Indigenous writer to win the Miles Franklin Award and That Deadman Dance also won Australia's premier literary prize, among many others. Proud to be one among those who call themselves Noongar, Kim is founder and chair of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Story Project (, which has published a number of bilingual picture books. A Companion to the Works of Kim Scott deals with aspects of his career in education and literature. He received an Australian Centenary Medal and was 2012 West Australian of the Year. Kim is currently Professor of Writing in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University.
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Rating details

592 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 19% (115)
4 43% (254)
3 27% (159)
2 8% (49)
1 3% (15)
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