Reading Groups and Reconciliation: Kate Grenville’s The Secret River and the Ordinary Reader

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Abstract

Kate Grenville's novel The Secret River was met with considerable acclaim on its publication in 2005. It has also been the subject of intense scrutiny and controversy, becoming a focus of criticism by both historians and literary scholars. This essay avoids adopting a position in relation to these debates, an undertaking we have attempted elsewhere (see Nolan and Clarke). Rather, we elaborate on the findings of a reception study of book clubs that have read and discussed The Secret River. This research is part of a larger project we call 'Fictions of Reconciliation', which examines the reception of recent works of Australian fiction that focuses on Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations. This essay explores how communities of ordinary or 'lay readers' respond to Grenville's novel, and what their responses might tell us about the ways in which historical fiction might or might not be mobilised in understanding contemporary race relations in Australia.

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Published 1 November 2014 in Volume 29 No. 4. Subjects: Aboriginal Australians, Grenville, Kate, Reading.

Cite as: Nolan, Maggie and Robert Clarke. ‘Reading Groups and Reconciliation: Kate Grenville’s The Secret River and the Ordinary Reader.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 29, no. 4, 2014, doi: 10.20314/als.589e1e5b02.