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Born Into This

a collection of stories by
Adam Thompson

$ 11.99 $ 15.99
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Born Into This, stories by Adam Thompson

* The Story Prize Spotlight Award, Winner
* Tasmanian Literary Awards
, Longlist
* Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction,
* Queensland Literary Awards – University of Southern Queensland Steele Rudd Award for a Short Story Collection,
Age Book of the Year award,
* An ABA Indie Next pick for “Great New Reads” for August.
* "A Best Native Book of 2021"
—The Tribal College Journal
* "A Best Book of the Year" 
—Independent Book Review

"A legacy of cultural destruction in Australia and the disappearance of the natural world loom over stories of Aboriginal rangers, untimely funerals and angry bees in this sharp fiction debut."
New York Times Book Review

"With its wit, intelligence and restless exploration of the parameters of race and place, Thompson’s debut collection is a welcome addition to the canon of Indigenous Australian writers."
—Thuy On, The Guardian


The remarkable stories in Born Into This are eye-opening, razor-sharp, and entertaining, often all at once.

From an Aboriginal ranger trying to instill some pride in wayward urban teens on the harsh islands off the coast of Tasmania, to those scraping by on the margins of white society railroaded into complex and compromised decisions, Adam Thompson presents a powerful indictment of colonialism and racism.

With humor, pathos, and the occasional sly twist, Thompson’s characters confront discrimination, untimely funerals, classroom politics, the ongoing legacy of cultural destruction, and — overhanging all like a discomforting, burgeoning awareness for both black and white Australia — the inexorable disappearance of the remnant natural world.

Read an excerpt:
Excerpt of the title story "Born Into This" by Adam Thompson on THE OFFING.

Watch author Adam Thompson talk about Born Into This:


Scroll to bottom for Goodreads reviews.

* Winner, The Story Prize Spotlight Award
Learn more on the website of The Story Prize.
“In sixteen stories, Thompson examines and deconstructs the conflicts, dilemmas, and unexpected affinities that arise in the shadow of a past filled with atrocity and trauma. With a keen eye for action and conflict, Thompson tracks the lives of aboriginal and non-aboriginal characters as they negotiate the social and economic pressures of modern-day Tasmania. The legacy of oppression and genocide hangs like a dense cloud over this collection, but the stories focus just as much on the everyday aspects of the characters’ lives: silence, solitude, longing, neglect, escape, retribution, forgiveness, sacrifice, duty, and equanimity.”

* Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction, Shortlist
From the Readings announcement, on Born Into This by Adam Thompson:

"Engaging and thought-provoking, this collection of short stories is set in Tasmania and filled with unforgettable characters. As an examination of masculinity, a showcase of life as a First Nations person in a specific time and place, and a reminder of what we are losing and have lost, both in the natural world and culturally, these tales are a triumph. While they might start off feeling self-contained, by the end the message is loud and clear—and it is certainly not one to be missed."

* Age Book of the Year award, Finalist
Read the announcement for the Age Book of the Year award finalists, which has a $10,000 prize, in the The Sydney Morning Herald.

* Tasmanian Literary Awards, Longlist
On October 24, 2022, the longlists for the 2022 Tasmanian Literary Awards were announced in each category, worth $25,000 each. Born Into This by Adam Thompson is one of ten longlisted titles for fiction.

"Born into This by Adam Thompson is a collection of stories that confront the continuing effects of colonization on the human psyche. Thompson, an Indigenous (Pakana) writer from Tasmania, employs crisp prose to unravel the entrenched ideologies of his characters as they contend with cultural erasure, land rights, and tribal identity. Yet, Thompson’s stories run the gamut of demographics, perspectives, locales, and voices, helping to ensure that readers recognize that while there are common themes amongst Indigenous storytellers, no single story can encapsulate the multitudes of even one tribe’s experiences."
—Ryan Winn, The Tribal College Journal
"The Best Native Books of 2021"

* Born Into This is an "Indie Next Great Reads for August" pick from The American Booksellers Association (ABA)! View the full list here.

"A legacy of cultural destruction in Australia and the disappearance of the natural world loom over stories of Aboriginal rangers, untimely funerals and angry bees in this sharp fiction debut."
New York Times Book Review (Aug. 8, 2021)

"Born Into This presents a masterful delineation of culture and identity... Thompson interrogates the irrevocable and ongoing impact of colonization on his community with charm, wit, and humor."
—Gauraa Shekhar, The Rumpus (Read the full Rumpus interview with author Adam Thompson)

"2021 was a badass year for indie press books. This isn’t anything new. Indie presses are always pushing boundaries, bending genres, breaking new ground, and changing the scope of the literary landscape... here is this year’s roundup of Impressive Indie Press Books of 2021."
—Joe Walters, Independent Book Review
View Born into This on the "35 Impressive Indie Press Books of 2021"

"It is easy to place Adam Thompson’s Born Into This alongside other important and groundbreaking voices in contemporary writing such as Billy-Ray Belcourt, Tommy Orange, and Natalie Diaz. With similarly intimate language, sometimes flecked with humor or rage, Thompson’s is a fresh voice speaking for so many people who have been silenced or ignored by the hegemony. The 16 rather short stories of Born Into This span such a range of human experience that any reader may find a home in its pages."
—Nick Gardner, Cleveland Review of Books (Read the review of Born Into This on Cleveland Review of Books)

“I am thrilled to have read Born Into This, which is filled with stories about Aboriginal people existing between cultural heritage and cultural change, and the seemingly inexorable loss of the natural world in which they live.”
Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)

"In these natural, ethereal tales, characters’ moral struggles and victories are highlighted, as is courage, even in the middle of heartache. The stories’ unpredictable plots and unapologetic revelations are realistic and imaginative. With elements of history and current affairs, the short stories of Born Into This take on the gravity of Tasmanian colonization in an artful and entertaining manner."
Samantha Ann Ehle, Foreword Reviews 

"Adam Thompson's Born Into This is a striking collection of hard-edged, penetrating stories set primarily in the Australian state of Tasmania and wrestling with issues of race, colonialism and individual agency... These cunning, clever, piercing stories of marginalized indigenous Australians are both compelling and illuminating."
—Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness (Read the review of Born Into This on Shelf Awareness)

"Thompson's stories are incredibly varied, some humorous and others heartbreaking. Short stories are often hit or miss for me, so it's rare that I read a collection when I love every single story, but this book was one of those magical books with nothing but perfect stories. I loved visiting Thompson's Tasmania through the eyes of so many different characters."
—Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks (Winston-Salem, NC)

"[Born Into This is] a potent collection by an author who mined the richness of both his ancestry, his work within the Aboriginal community and his island home for tales about black and white relations, colonialism, class friction, racism and the despoilment of heritage and environment... With its wit, intelligence and restless exploration of the parameters of race and place, Thompson’s debut collection is a welcome addition to the canon of Indigenous Australian writers."
—Thuy On, The Guardian

"A short story collection reminiscent of the work of Black American author Edward P. Jones... These stories are touching precisely because they are so familiar. That they tell the stories of people from Australia makes no difference. People realize the need to find ways to reclaim their histories. Through agriculture, by storytelling, through activism, and most importantly by living free lives. Thompson shows us how artfully."
—Donna Ledbetter, Short Story Book Club (Read the review of Born Into This on Short Story Book Club)

“[A] riveting debut collection. Stories of brutal weather and angry bees, urban protests and remote islands, trace the tether between Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their ancestral lands. Thompson’s strengths are in his exquisite descriptions of nature, as well as his memorable voice.”
Publishers Weekly (Read the review of Born Into This on Publishers Weekly)

"Thompson inhabits a diverse range of characters, from folks who feel a strong connection to their Palawa heritage to folks who feel conflicted about their identify – and sometimes anxious about others’ claims of descendance. This strength in form explores a wide array of experiences and emotions relating to identity."
—Arjun Rajkhowa, ArtsHub

“With Born Into This, Adam Thompson’s stories of present-day Tasmania provide a powerful response to trauma that dates from the horrors of the Black War and continues with ongoing ‘celebrations’ of Australia/Invasion Day. The author has much to say.”
—Anthony Lynch, Australian Book Review

"Some stories are morbidly comic while others cut deep, conveying the absurdity and despair of Indigenous experiences of settler-colonialism across Tasmania."
—Tristen Harwood, The Saturday Paper

"This collection of Indigenous resistance, triumph and joy stands alongside millions of stories throughout this country, first spoken, then written, since time immemorial."
—Raveena Grover, Kill your Darlings

"This remarkable debut crackles with wit and rage — as entertaining and affecting as it is thought-provoking."
—Stella Charls, Readings

"A new collection of short stories addresses the universal themes of identity, racism and heritage destruction."
—Dana Anderson, The Examiner

"Born Into This represents the emergence of a fresh and vital voice on the Australian literary scene. Indigenous writer Adam Thompson expertly combines wit and pathos in his debut short story collection. With stories from a diversity of perspectives, but bound by its Tasmanian setting, Thompson’s mastery over his characters and sensibility for contemporary issues makes this a special collection."
Happy Mag, Best New Books of 2021

"Piercing. At times funny. Real. Raw. Straight up truth. Stories that urge the reader to reflect, to look inward. .. This book is a gift."
—Blackfulla Bookclub (Instagram)

"16 stories. 16 distinct characters. 16 different “takes” on what it means to be Aboriginal. If you can take away even one thing, it is that there is no single emotion, experience, or moment that can encapsulate an entire lineage. The collection smashes the idea of “tokens” by capturing only the smallest of moments. It is the subtle interactions and emotions, propagated with complex personalities, that make this collection so impactful."
—Swati Sudarsan, @booksnailmail on Instagram

Born Into This includes a range of stories that highlight the racism and oppression that many different First Nations people face in our current day, while also making the reader pause and think about the reality of these fictional stories… It is a stunning collection from a talented and compelling debut author. Thompson has given Australia a new voice to listen to and learn from in 2021.”
—Lauren Pratt, Underground Writers

“The Tasmanian landscape and a whole host of engaging, charming and well drawn characters populate the stories that make up Born Into This… a wonderful reminder that there is no monolithic Aboriginal Australian… a thought provoking collection, and hopefully a conversation provoking collection too.”
—Simon Clark, The AU Review

“It’s not often a new literary voice seems to spring full formed from a world so unique and yet so achingly recognisable, and it’s a voice with its own gravitas and unique vision. A debut collection that leaps from the starter’s gate.”
—Cate Kennedy, author of The World Beneath

“I knew from the first page that Born Into This was going to be something special. Adam Thompson is a world-class writer whose stories strike like lightning.”
—Ellen van Neerven, author of Heat and Light

“It’s beautiful to read such intimate and familiar representations of lutruwita—a place too often rendered as haunting and gothic in the history of Australian literature. These stories cover themes of family, activism, intimacy and identity. I know it’s going to be one of those books that is read really widely for years to come.”
—Evelyn Araluen, author of Dropbear

“The lives of the characters within these pages provide an honest, humorous and occasionally raw insight into the experiences of living in a country, and on Country, both shared and in contest. Thompson is a writer who knows that the way to our hearts and heads is through powerful storytelling. He delivers on every page, with each word.”
—Tony Birch, author of The White Girl

“A compelling new voice, tough yet tender, from the heart of Aboriginal Tasmania.”
—Melissa Lucashenko, author of Too Much Lip

“Adam Thompson’s stories from Aboriginal Tasmania are as beautifully written as they are evocative. Here is an outstanding new talent. Born Into This is compelling reading.”
—Bob Brown, author of Memo for a Saner World

Born Into This is drenched in swagger and originality, the blows are head-on, but the comfort is swiftly delivered in the wit and delicacy of Thompson’s phrasing. He has the reader in the boat, on the shore and drowning in the sea at once.”
—Tara June Winch, author of The Yield


Adam Thompson, author of Born Into This

Adam Thompson is a pakana writer from Launceston, Tasmania. His work has been published by the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Kill Your Darlings and Griffith Review, as well as appearing in several anthologies. Adam is the author of Born Into This, which was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards, The Age Book of the Year and the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. He was named as Tasmanian Aboriginal Artist of the Year in 2019. Adam has written for performance art and television. His episode of Little J and Big Cuz (Shelter) is in Season 3 of the series and will be broadcast in early 2022. Adam is passionate about advancing the interests of the pakana community. He has worked for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre for over 20 years.

Visit the Adam Thompson author page for videos, interviews, and more.


Click here to view and/or download Born Into This reader guide as a PDF.

BOOK CLUB & READER GUIDE: Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. What are some of the common themes running through the short stories in this collection?

2. The 16 stories that make up Born Into This are written by an Aboriginal (pakana) Tasmanian Australian writer and take place largely in Tasmania, featuring Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander characters: discuss what you learned about the culture, history, and politics of Australia through this lens. If you live in another part of the world, what are some similarities to your country’s culture, history, and politics in regards to Indigenous peoples, colonization, and race? What are differences?

3. The Tasmanian landscape plays an outsized role in several of the stories: what are some examples that stood out to you? Why do you think the descriptions of the land and how the Aboriginal characters interact with the natural world were important for the author to write about?

4. How are land ownership and rights explored in the stories? Consider “The Blackfellas from Here,” with Kat confronting the wealthy homeowners who have a plaque reading: The owners acknowledge that this house stands on Aboriginal land; the title story “Born Into This,” where the main character Kara is described as doing something against the law; and “Honey,” containing a scene in which Sharkey worries about “a land rights claim” after Nathan finds stone tool artifacts.

5. Many of the stories involve revenge in some form. Why do you think this might be? Discuss some examples in the book where personal or political revenge is had. Do you think these instances are right or wrong, or are justifiable?

6. The history and politics of Australia Day/Invasion Day, are at the heart of the stories “Invasion Day” and “Kite”: what happens in each of these stories? How do different populations of Australia feel about this day? What did you learn that you didn’t know before?

7. Heritage, identity, and lineage are at the forefront of many of the stories. Consider Kara in “Born Into This,” when she describes her boss Jason as a “tick-a-box Aboriginal” — what does that mean? In “Bleak Conditions,” how is the child’s hair symbolic? What are some other instances of characters struggling with issues of identity?

8. In “Descendant,” who gets to claim Aboriginal identity and heritage is deeply explored with its young main character Dorothy and her struggles with her school’s teachers and classmates. What is Dorothy proud of, and what does Amelia do that upsets Dorothy? Do you believe this story could be seen as a metaphor for larger societal issues of who gets to claim heritage?

9. What are the different forms of racism that are explored in the collection? Consider the stories “Your Own Aborigine,” where a law is passed that requires welfare recipients to be in direct contact with taxpaying “sponsors”; “Kite,” where an Aboriginal man finds himself in the midst of white Australians celebrating Australia day; “Summer Girl,” where an Aboriginal man and his white girlfriend go on a camping trip; the uneven “friendship” between Sharkey and Nathan in “Honey”; jealousy sparking a racial divide between two childhood friends in “Sonny.” Did the stories make you think differently about how racism is inflicted, and how it is experienced?

10. Several of the stories show Aboriginal activism, service to community, and preservation of heritage and culture. How are those elements depicted in the different stories? Are they shown as being at odds with the country of Australia?

Sneak Peek

Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from Born Into This!
View Born Into This sneak peek on Issuu.com

sneak peek of Born into This debut story collection by Adam Thompson


FORMAT: Paperback (1st printing with gatefold)
LIST PRICE: $15.99
PAGES: 188
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387042
DIGITAL ISBN: 9781953387059
RELEASE DATE: 07/13/2021
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"

Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Printed on Rolland Enviro. This paper contains 100% post-consumer fiber, is manufactured using renewable energy - Biogas and processed chlorine free.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).

Paper Rolland Enviro icons