Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson
Longlisted for Stella Prize 2021
ABIA Longlist 2021 – Literary Fiction Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2021
Darnmoor, The Gateway to Happiness. The sign taunts a fool into feeling some sense of achievement, some kind of end- that you have reached a destination in the very least. Yet as the sign states, Darnmoor is merely a gateway, a waypoint on the road to where you really want to be. Darnmoor is the home of the Billymil family, three generations who have lived in this ‘gateway town’.
Race relations between Indigenous and settler families are fraught, though the rigid status quo is upheld through threats and soft power rather than the overt violence of yesteryear. As progress marches forwards, Darnmoor and its surrounds undergo rapid social and environmental changes, but as some things change, some stay exactly the same.
The Billymil family are watched (and sometimes visited) by ancestral spirits and spirits of the recently deceased, who look out for their descendants and attempt to help them on the right path. When the town’s secrets start to be uncovered the town will be rocked by a violent act that forever shatters a century of silence. Full of music, Yuwaalaraay language and exquisite description, Song of the Crocodile is a lament to choice and change, and the unyielding land that sustains us all, if only we could listen to it.