Song of the Crocodile by Nardi Simpson

Published: 2020 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Hachette 3. Crocodlie skin [Public Domain] via Pixabay 4. Cargelligo St in Tullibigeal, New South Wales by Mattinbgn [CC BY 3.0] via Wikipedia

This is a story about three generations of an Indigenous Australian family, and how they live with segregation, racism and violence in a small fictional town in outback New South Wales.

BOOK SNAPS: “… the weight of grief, which fills the novel, has power” (Sydney Review of Books). I found it to be a very sad story, partly due to the characters being so well-drawn. The reader feels an empathy for them. The Stella Prize Judges’ Report explains: “Simpson doesn’t shy away from the complexity and nuance of the characters, who are at once survivors, victims and perpetrators of trauma grounded in dispossession and injustice. However, nor does she deny these characters joy and meaning in their lives – bringing their stories to the page with great tenderness and lyricism.” At first I was a bit put off by the stories of ancestral spirits woven throughout the book, but I eventually found that these stories are an integral part of the book, showing the Indigenous perspective of connection to Country. The author “skilfully weaves in Dreaming and demonstrates the connection between the present and past through ancestral stories and care for nature.” Readings

“The rules were simple: stay still, stay quiet, play safe.”


“Celie pointed the nozzle into the washing drum as the cockatoos cursed her from a cluster of black box trees.”

“The roof of the plains is profound and without end. To call it just sky would be but a half-truth, for the bleeding blue that shimmers above is also a watercourse, a heavenly highway that reflects the twists and bends of two great rivers that whisper through the land below.”

Author: Nardi Simpson

Awards: Australian Literary Society Gold Medal 2021, Queensland Literary Award for Fiction 2021, Stella Prize Longlist 2021; Miles Franklin Longlist 2021, Australian Book Industry Awards – Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2021, Victorian Premiers Literary Awards- Indigenous Writing Shortlist 2021, Indie Book Awards- Debut Fiction 2021, Dublin Literary Award Longlist 2022.

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