A tough Kimberley tale of resistance wins most underrated book of 2018

A memoir by the late Frank Byrne, a member of the Stolen Generations, has been named the most underrated book of 2018.

The Small Press Network, which represents independentpublishers in Australia and New Zealand, awarded the book the Most Underrated Book Award, which is sponsored by the Australian Booksellers Association.

It is the first time an Indigenous Australian author and a memoir have won the award.

Mr Byrne’s son Trevor accepted the award for his father at the SPN Independent Publishing Conference in Melbourne.

Frank Byrne was born at Christmas Creek in Western Australia’s north in 1937. He was moved from place to place after being taken from his mother, a Gooniyandi woman.

Living in Hope is a record of his childhood determination in the face of harsh and unjust treatment.

“It is very important for people to learn what happened back in them days, the way the government system was authorised to take kids away from their parents,” Trevor Byrne said.

“People need to learn from that history. The MUBA win gets our dad’s story out there and people need to understand his story doesn’t just reflect what happened to Aboriginal people here, but what has happened to Indigenous peoples across the world.”

Mr Byrne’s co-authors Gerard Waterford and Frances Coughlan said Mr Byrne wanted his story recorded for history.

“He was absolutely outraged by John Howard and others making claims that children were being rescued not stolen,” they said in a statement. “That was painful for him to hear.”

“That denial of truth was a reason why he was driven to have this story out. His story and stories like this are really important.”

Mr Byrne died of cancer in October last year.

Living in Hope (RRP $15) is published by Ptilotus Press.

By Wendy Caccetta

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