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LONGLISTED: Mark & Evette Moran Nib Literary Award
For perhaps the first time in novel form, Benevolence presents an important era in Australia’s history from an Aboriginal perspective. Told through the fictional characterisation of Darug woman Muraging (Mary James), Benevolence is a compelling story of first contact. Born around 1813, Muraging is among the earliest Darug generations to experience the impact of British colonisation – a time of cataclysmic change and violence, but also remarkable survival and resistance.
At an early age Muraging is given over to the Parramatta Native School by her Darug father. Fleeing the school in pursuit of love, she embarks on a journey of discovery and a search for a safe place to make her home. Spanning the years 1816–35, Benevolence is set around the Hawkesbury River area, the home of the Darug people, in Parramatta and Sydney.
Julie Janson’s intensely visual prose interweaves historical events with detailed characterisation – she shatters stereotypes and gives voice to an Aboriginal experience of early-settlement.
"'Benevolence' is a searing, unforgettable work...this novel is of immense importance"
— Joy Lawn, Paperbark Words
"The gut-truths presented in ‘Benevolence’ are tied to a larger reckoning needed in Australian society – one that involves a centring of First Nation voices, a willingness to address not just a violent history, but a hostile and violent present."
— Hayley Scrivenor, Mascara Literary Review
“How good it is to hear a Darug voice speaking of Darug history.”
— Kate Grenville
"Janson's writing is evocative...The shame of colonisation is amplified by the proud complexities of the narrative...Muraging's – and Janson's – refusal to perform the victim to voyeurs of trauma is an act of defiance."
— Bec Kavanagh, The Sunday Age
"...the text’s undulation evokes the ever-changing interactions between settlers and Aboriginal populations following settlement, giving voice to an oft-overlooked Aboriginal perspective."
— Jessica Urwin, Australian Book Review