DescriptionNPR Best Books of 2018
"A gut punch of a book in the style of Le Guin, Atwood, and Butler. Claire G. Coleman's debut novel blazes with truth."
-- Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble
Terra Nullius (def): land belonging to no one; no man's land
"Jacky was running. There was no thought in his head, only an intense drive to run. There was no sense he was getting anywhere, no plan, no destination, no future. All he had was a sense of what was behind, what he was running from. Jacky was running."
The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to bring peace to their new home, and they have a plan for how to achieve it. They will tear Native families apart and provide re-education to those who do not understand why they should submit to their betters.
Peace and prosperity are worth any price, but who will pay it? This rich land, Australia, will provide for all if only the Natives can learn their place.
Jacky has escaped the Home where the Settlers sent him, but where will he go? The Head of the Department for the Protection of Natives, known to Settlers and Natives alike as the Devil, is chasing Jacky. And when the Devil catches him, Sister Bagra, who knows her duty to the ungodly, will be waiting for Jacky back at Home.
An incendiary, timely, and fantastical debut from an essential Australian Aboriginal writer, Claire G. Coleman.
Do you recognize this story? Look again.
This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history books. This Terra Nullius -- shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize and Highly Commended for the Victorian Premiers Literary Awards -- is something new, but all too familiar.
Earn by promoting books
Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.Become an affiliate
About the Author
Dublin Literary Award Nominee
"A striking debut from a new Australian Aboriginal voice. The speculative-fiction lens reframes European invasion, shifting and unsettling the reader's perspective. The devastation of colonisation and displacement is explored with originality, compassion and insight." -- State Library of Queensland Dublin Literary Award Nomination
"Coleman's skillful use of science fiction elements enhances her story, causing readers to recognize the alien as something all too familiar. Terra Nullius possesses a universal impact and stands as one of the best novels addressing colonialism that we've ever read." -- Reading Women
"Fantastic. . . . Unbelievable." -- Liberty Hardy, Book Riot
"Demonstrates Coleman's promise as a creative storyteller. VERDICT Highly recommended." -- Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Coleman stuns with this imaginative, astounding debut about colonization. . . . Coleman universalizes the experiences of invaded indigenous populations in a way that has seldom been achieved. Artfully combining elements of literary, historical, and speculative fiction, this allegorical novel is surprising and unforgettable." -- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Australian natives living under the oppressive brutality of forced colonization struggle to survive, let alone fight back. It's little wonder that Australian Aboriginal writer Coleman has been praised and nominated for awards in her own country for her thoughtfully woke debut novel about an invasion of Australia by punishing settlers and the subsequent resistance by a native people. . . . a powerful myth comes to life before readers' eyes." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Coleman's timely debut is testimony to the power of an old story seen afresh through new eyes." -- Adelaide Advertiser
"Claire G. Coleman's Terra Nulllius is an arresting and original novel that addresses the legacy of Australia's violent colonial history. . . . Coleman's punchy prose is insistent throughout, its energy unflagging. Terra Nullius is a novel for our times, one whose tone is as impassioned as its message is necessary." -- Stella Prize Judges' Report
"Noongar writer Claire Coleman's debut novel, Terra Nullius, envisions a continent disturbingly familiar and worryingly futuristic. . . . It is a future beyond the boundaries of familiar 21st-century post-colonial settler discourse on reconciliation and 'settlement' in a nation founded on the dispossession of Aboriginal lands, and ongoing 'unfinished business' with the first people." -- Sydney Morning Herald
"A powerful, sobering piece of writing that makes us face an Australia we try to forget, but should always remember." -- Adelaide Review
"A speculative sci-fi struggle meaningfully grounded in Coleman's own Indigenous culture, Terra Nullius offers something new -- a skilfully constructed pastiche of colonisation, resistance and apocalyptic chaos with parallels that sit unsettlingly close to home." -- Big Issue Australia
"Coleman makes a significant contribution to the emerging body of Aboriginal writers such as Ellen van Neerven and Alexis Wright who write spectral and speculative fiction to critique the vicious fiction of the colonial archive." -- Canberra Times
"Witty, weird, moving and original." -- Weekend Australian
"Set in an Australia that is simultaneously recognisable and bleakly foreign, Coleman's work of speculative fiction tells a story of colonisation and displacement that is both devastating and all too familiar. In our politically tumultuous time, the novel's themes of racism, inherent humanity and freedom are particularly poignant." -- Books + Publishing