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  • Hachette Australia
  • Hachette Australia
  • Hachette Australia

Dirt Poor Islanders

Winnie Dunn

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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A powerful, insightful and provocative debut novel that explores the challenge of finding a way to be true to yourself and your roots without ignoring where you have come from or denying where you want to go.

'Islanders must do everything together. We painted ngatu together. We crossed the ocean together. We settled on isles together. We took up Christianity together. We entered into new citizenships together. We became wage workers together. We lived with generations upon generations stacked in fibro houses together. We became half-White together. We got nits together. We sooked together. We stayed poor together. Together. Together. Together.'

Meadow Reed used to get confused when explaining that she had grandparents from Australia, Tonga and Great Britain. She'd say she was full-White and full-Tongan, thinking that so many halves made separate wholes. Despite the Anglo-Saxon genetics that gave Meadow a narrow nose and light-brown skin, everybody who raised her was Tongan. Everybody who loved her was Tongan. This was what made her Tongan.

Growing up in the heat-hummed streets of Mt Druitt in Western Sydney, Meadow will face palangis who think they are better than Fobs, women who fall into other women, what it means to have many mothers, a playful rain and even Pineapple Fanta.

For this half-White, half-Tongan girl, the world is bigger than the togetherness she has grown up in. Finding her way means pushing against the constraints of tradition, family and self until she becomes whole in her own right. Meadow is going to see that being a dirt poor Islander girl is more beautiful than she can even begin to imagine.

Dirt Poor Islanders is a potent, mesmerising novel that opens our eyes to the brutal fractures navigated when growing up between two cultures and the importance of understanding all the many pieces of yourself.

'a loving, yet challenging, portrait of the Tongan-Australian community . . . this is truly groundbreaking fiction' MELISSA LUCASHENKO, Miles Franklin winning author of Too Much Lip

'ferocious and tender . . . no one is spared and so much is revealed, including the complexity and power of being Tongan.' SHANKARI CHANDRAN, Miles Franklin winning author of Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens

'A fresh and vital new voice. The language dances on the page and creates vibrant characters alive and dripping with life.' FAVEL PARRETT, Miles Franklin shortlisted author of Past the Shallows

'I couldn't put it down. I laughed and I cried and I could smell the food and picture the places. Groundbreaking. Powerful. Brilliant. Masterpiece.' SELA AHOSIVI-ATIOLA

'a perceptive, provocative and personal exploration of growing up in a multicultural family . . . Dirt Poor Islanders is an impressive piece of autobiographic fiction' Weekend Australian

'In a beautiful warts-and-all way, Dunn

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