The Yield: A Novel (Paperback)
Winner of the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award!
"A beautifully written novel that puts language at the heart of remembering the past and understanding the present."—Kate Morton
“A groundbreaking novel for black and white Australia.”—Richard Flanagan, Man Booker Prize winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North
A young Australian woman searches for her grandfather's dictionary, the key to halting a mining company from destroying her family's home and ancestral land in this exquisitely written, heartbreaking, yet hopeful novel of culture, language, tradition, suffering, and empowerment in the tradition of Louise Erdrich, Sandra Cisneros, and Amy Harmon.
Knowing that he will soon die, Albert “Poppy” Gondiwindi has one final task he must fulfill. A member of the indigenous Wiradjuri tribe, he has spent his adult life in Prosperous House and the town of Massacre Plains, a small enclave on the banks of the Murrumby River. Before he takes his last breath, Poppy is determined to pass on the language of his people, the traditions of his ancestors, and everything that was ever remembered by those who came before him. The land itself aids him; he finds the words on the wind.
After his passing, Poppy’s granddaughter, August, returns home from Europe, where she has lived the past ten years, to attend his burial. Her overwhelming grief is compounded by the pain, anger, and sadness of memory—of growing up in poverty before her mother’s incarceration, of the racism she and her people endured, of the mysterious disappearance of her sister when they were children; an event that has haunted her and changed her life. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends and honor Poppy and her family, she vows to save their land—a quest guided by the voice of her grandfather that leads into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river.
Told in three masterfully woven narratives, The Yield is a celebration of language and an exploration of what makes a place "home." A story of a people and a culture dispossessed, it is also a joyful reminder of what once was and what endures—a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling, and identity, that offers hope for the future.
About the Author
Tara June Winch is the Wiradjuri author of two novels and a short story collection. For her first novel, Swallow the Air, she was named a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist and received mentorship from Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka as part of the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Her second novel, The Yield, won Australia's highest accolade, the Miles Franklin Literary Award. She was born in Australia in 1983 and currently lives in France with her family.
Winch has built her novel with subtlety and strength. This is a complex, satisfying book, both story and testimony. The Yield works to reclaim a history that never should have been lost in the first place.
— The Guardian
— The Guardian
“[A] wily, appealing novel….A testament to the saving grace of language itself, and to the corrosive consequences when it falls out of use and disappears.”
— Wall Street Journal
A lyrical, courageous storyteller, Winch redefines Australia in this generational tale of reclamation and hope.
— Sunday Times (London)
"A deep and affecting novel, [and] one of the summer's literary must-reads."
"Winch makes a strong statement, beautifully rendered."
— Library Journal (starred review)
Take courage when you read this book. You’ll need it. Winch asks big questions ... Is the answer within us?
— Bruce Pascoe, author of Dark Emu
"The Peoples, languages and wildlife of Australia have been purposely decimated for a great many years. The history of this vast land is a tragic one and this young Indigenous author has taken it on in a graceful act of retrieval and witness. The dictionary and use of Wiradjuri words is transporting. Birrabuwawanha—to return, to come back. The Yield is a fine novel, and one not without hope."
— Joy Williams, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Quick and the Dead
A lyrical and generous writer, Winch’s prose shimmers through this extraordinary tale of cruelty, dislocation, love and resilience.
— Judging Panel for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award
Already a best-seller in Australia, Winch’s second novel is a clear-eyed look at the experiences of native people and the ways in which history is inherited through generations.
A beautifully written novel that puts language at the heart of remembering the past and understanding the present.
— Kate Morton, internationally bestselling author of The Clockmaker’s Daughter
"The Yield is, by far, the Australian novel of 2020 that you won’t want to miss."
— Book Riot
"The humorous undercurrent to some of Winch’s short stories has no place here, and this is a more serious work than her previous books—but while she may have developed a more sophisticated style, her work is no less vivid, and this is an astonishingly elegant and powerful second novel."
— Melanie Kembrey, Sydney Morning Herald
A groundbreaking novel for black and white Australia.
— Richard Flanagan, Man Booker Prize winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Mesmerising and important.
— Melissa Lucashenko, 2019 Miles Franklin award-winning author of Too Much Lip
Winch offers a stark account of how Aboriginal peoples are ignored, abused and their cultural beliefs stomped on, [but] The Yield's final message is one of hope.
The Yield is a story of hope and preservation
The Yield sings up language, history, home, blood - all the important stuff.
— Paul Kelly, author of How to Make Gravy
A work of immense scope and sensitivity.
— Jessie Cole, author of Deeper Water
Reap the wisdom this book yields.
— The Saturday Paper
The Yield is the work of a major talent. It hypnotises with its lyricism, with the juxtaposition of horror and hope, and the candid look at family, country and history. It’s a work to be savoured, to be enjoyed in the sun on a winter’s day, and then to be shared—as widely as possible!
— Madelaine Dickie, National Indigenous Times
The Yield...is a poignant story of personal and cultural reclamation and survival.
— The Australian
As August navigates her connection to home, to family, and seeks to save what is left of it, the three stories collide in a beautiful ending. The story touches on many types of trauma that have been inflicted on Indigenous Australian’s from the colonization of Australia. Beautifully written, this was a deeply moving story that showed that regardless of the brokenness, the spirit of culture is so much stronger.
"A brilliant novel: deeply thought provoking, challenging, intelligent, sophisticated in style, and beautifully written, despite the brutality and sorrow that the history, and narrative, is awash with."
— Theresa Smith Writes
Nothing short of a landmark Australian novel, simultaneously timeless and yet urgently a story for now, with sentences that’ll knock the wind out of your gut.
— Benjamin Law, author of The Family Law
The Yield is a bleak and beautiful book that eloquently phrases the weight of history, with an ultimately uplifting sensibility at its heart: that of the power of storytelling across thousands of years.
— Anne Barnetson, Australian Bookseller + Publisher
Winch’s urgent novel is a chance to listen. A moving and evocative story of Aboriginal Australia. Hope shines through this contemporary novel of a culture dispossessed and the importance of preserving language. Winch is a Wiradjuri author and here she writes about the Wiradjuri language which was once thought to be extinct but has now been preserved. The Yield is current, timely and an important must-Read for all Australians.
— Dean, Better Read Than Dead
It’s another mesmerizing tour de force, throwing a spotlight on Australia’s broken heart.
— Juliet Rieden, Australian Womens Weekly
This is a big hearted, hopeful book. More hopeful, maybe, than we deserve.
— Miles Allinson, Readings
I just finished this book and it is ABSOLUTELY extraordinary. Intensely moving, gripping, brutal and yet so full of generosity. I learned so much especially about the lyrical Wiradjuri language. Brilliant.
— Annabel Crabb, author of The Wife Drought
The Yield uniquely and powerfully shows how revolutionary a shift from an imported language to an Indigenous language might be ... such aesthetically and ethically ambitious writing. Reap the wisdom this book yields.
— Maria Takolander, The Saturday Paper
This is an astonishingly elegant and powerful second novel.
— Louise Swinn, The Sydney Morning Herald