About the author

Claire G. Coleman

About the book

Judges' report

Claire G. Coleman’s Terra Nulllius is an arresting and original novel that addresses the legacy of Australia’s violent colonial history. It begins with a breathless account of a young man named Jacky running away from a remote missionary outpost overseen by the domineering Sister Bagra. The dramatic tale of flight and pursuit that unfolds across the book’s early chapters develops into a scathing commentary on the systemic depredations and injustices that are all-too familiar as consequences of the archetypal conflict that inevitably arises between the two groups the novel refers to simply as Natives and Settlers. Later, the novel shifts into the realm of science fiction, which is used to grant what initially appears to be a straightforward if slightly allegorised story of colonial opppression, dehumanisation and resistance an additional scourging layer of dramatic irony. 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.

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