On the windswept point of an island at the edge of Van Diemen’s Land, the Commandant huddles with a small force of white men and women. He has gathered together, under varying degrees of coercion and duress, the last of the Tasmanians, or so he believes. His purpose is to save them—from a number of things, but most pressingly from the murderous intent of the pastoral settlers on their country.
The orphans Whelk and Pipi, fighting for their survival against the malevolent old man they know as the Catechist, watch as almost everything proves resistant to the Commandant’s will. The wind, the spread of disease, the strange black dog that floats in on the prow of a wrecked ship…But above all the chief, the leader of the exiles, before whom the Commandant performs a sordid dance of intimacy and betrayal.
In The Settlement, Jock Serong reimagines in urgent, compelling prose the ill-fated exploits of George Augustus Robinson at the settlement of Wybalenna—a venture whose blinkered, self-interested cruelty might stand for the colonial enterprise itself.
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication date: 30 August 2022
Format: Trade Paperback