The powerful Murrumbidgee River surges through town leaving death and destruction in its wake. It is a stark reminder that while the river can give life, it can just as easily take it away.
Wagadhaany is one of the lucky ones. She survives. But is her life now better than the fate she escaped? Forced to move away from her miyagan, she walks through each day with no trace of dance in her step, her broken heart forever calling her back home to Gundagai.
When she meets Wiradyuri stockman Yindyamarra, Wagadhaany’s heart slowly begins to heal. But still, she dreams of a better life, away from the degradation of being owned. She longs to set out along the river of her ancestors, in search of lost family and country. Can she find the courage to defy the White man’s law? And if she does, will it bring hope ... or heartache?
Set on timeless Wiradyuri country, where the life-giving waters of the rivers can make or break dreams, and based on devastating true events, Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams) is an epic story of love, loss and belonging.
Praise for Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams)
‘Engrossing and wonderful storytelling. I really loved these strong, brave Wiradyuri characters.’ – Melissa Lucashenko, author of Too Much Lip
‘A powerful story of family, place and belonging.’ – Kate Grenville, author of A Room Made of Leaves
‘A remarkable story of courage and a love of country. The tenacity of an Aboriginal woman, Wagadhaany, is made possible by the deep strength of the earth she walks on ... It is a story that hums with contemporary resonance. Anita Heiss writes with heart and energy on every page of this novel.’ – Tony Birch, author of The White Girl
‘This is a book to sink into. Lyrical and tender, Anita Heiss’s Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray tells a story of courage, connection and belonging which is both universal and deeply personal, with the river singing through every page. A grand achievement and destined to be read for a long time to come.’ – Meg Keneally, author of Fled and The Wreck
‘Anita Heiss is at the height of her storytelling powers in this inspiring, heart-breaking, profound tale that explores the deep, eternal connection to country and the resilience of the human heart. Wagadhaany is a timeless heroine who reminds us of the steps our ancestors walked.’ – Larissa Behrendt, filmmaker and author
‘It's so incredible to hear the story of Australia's colonial past through the eyes of an indigenous woman ... I loved the use of the Wiradjuri language throughout – it's a paean to an ancient culture steeped in myth and song and storytelling ... The novel flows like the great Murrumbidgee River itself, with powerful undercurrents that sweep the reader along - I feel it's a book that all Australians should read, to try and understand why our colonial past still causes so much pain and grievance.’ – Kate Forsyth, author of The Blue Rose
‘This is the Australian novel I’ve been waiting for. Epic storytelling with a deep warmth at its heart, Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray will break your heart but leave you with hope and a strong connection to the people of the river. A love story not only between people, but between people and country. Anita Heiss has given us a magnificent, gripping read - masterful storytelling which brings the past to life in a way we’ve never seen before. I just loved it. This story will stay with me forever.’ – Pamela Hart, author of The Charleston Scandal
‘A heartbreaking story of disruption and loss, and the warmest invitation to share the space of landscape and language, recovery and love. The generous reach of Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray insists on individual power and an expansive empathy.’ – Ashley Hay
BOOK CLUB NOTES - available from the S&S site, please click here.
RESOURCE LIST - for Anita's secondary resources, please click here.
WHERE TO BUY?
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Better Read Than Dead
"Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss review – a mighty and generous heartsong" - The Guardian
Review by Jane Sullivan in Australian Book Review.
"Anita Heiss' Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray is an affecting tale of Aboriginal identity and dispossession." - The Canberra Times
Review by Joann Shiells in Books+Publishing
Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray is an exquisite piece of historical fiction by Jodie Sloan in The AU Review
Review by Amy Dale for LSJ Online.
Chris Gordon, Readings Bookstore
What Katie Read for Booktopia
Goodreads (don’t forget to add your own review!)
Sparkly Pretty Briiiight
Sydney Morning Herald
Urban List - The Best Romance Books of 2021.
Wilosophy Podcast with Wil Anderson
Speaking Out: Literature, Language & Cultural Revitalisation - Anita speaks to Larissa Behrendt
The Bookshelf (Radio National): Live from the Sydney Writers Festival with Anita Heiss, Rick Morton and Emily Maguire
Anonymous Was A Woman Podcast with Astrid Edwards and Sally Spicer.
Afternoons with Jacinta Parsons (ABC)
The Glasshouse on RRR with Bethany Atkinson-Quinton
Black Magic Woman podcast