Taboo up for a gong

LOCAL Noongar writer and academic Kim Scott is vying for his third Miles Franklin Literary Award after being nominated for his latest novel Taboo.

Set in WA’s southwest, the novel is about a Noongar family who return to a taboo place – the site of an massacre of their kindfolk generations ago.

The group has been invited to the property by its elderly owner, who’s wife is determined to cleanse its disturbing past.

But the process of reconciliation takes time and is fraught with difficulties.

The book ponders how Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can make peace after such a bloody and brutal history.

Like many literary critics, Scott believes Taboo is “far more accessible than the complicated Benang” his previous Miles Franklin winner.

“The plot is more important, there’s more dialogue and it’s less ambitious,” he says.

• Writer Kim Scott. Image courtesy Miles Franklin Literary Award


Although Scott was an English and history teacher for most of his life, he says writing has always been a full-time preoccupation and he was determined to get published.

“I took a year off to work on my first novel,” he says.

“Each book takes about three to five years to write.”

Although Scott no longer teaches writing to secondary school students, he still mentors postgraduate students at Curtin University, where he has been the professor of writing since 2011.

Asked how difficult it is to juggle academia with a full-time writing career, Scott chuckles and admits he is “badly organised”, devoting about one day a week to his passion at the moment.

Scott views the nomination for the Miles Franklin as a win in itself.

“Then the luck kicks in,” he says.

However he does credit the award, as well as a swag of others, for being “a huge influence” in selling his work. The winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award will be announced August 26. To find out more go to


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