Homecoming by Elfie Shiosaki is an
Homecoming by Elfie Shiosaki is an exquisite book. It stays with you long after you have read it. Gentle, sad and intimate – I felt very close to the lives of the Noongar women who are in the story.
Told in fragments using reproduced archival material, art work, letters and poetry we move backward and forward in time to experience the hardships, love and loss of these brave and resilient women.
The power of the story is the truth it tells of the experience of four generations of Noongar women. The geographical landmarks give the book authenticity and add to the power of the story. I read this sentence knowing the landmark in North Fremantle.
Koorlang took her first breath of salty air on the verandah of Hillcrest Maternity Hospital in Walyalup.
The reproduced records of a personal history card (1927- 1932) from the Aborigines Department inform us about the work and wages of the writer’s great-grandmother. They give the reader tangible evidence of the realities of living as a young Noongar woman in the 1920’s.
Another example is on page 14 which is a retraced letter from 1918 to the Chief Protector. It starts:
I am anxious to have my children home with me.
Other parts of the book are written in poetic form and are an emotional response to the stories the writer was told by her mother or as an interpretation of the lives of her grandmother and great-grandmother.
Storytelling gives us a window into other worlds. The gentleness of the storytelling and poetry in this book, despite the anguish and sadness, makes it a valuable contribution to our shared history.
As we celebrate Reconciliation Week 2022 learning about our past through reading and sharing creative works such as these helps us all work towards reconciliation.