‘This story has its genesis in fact, when three Fraser Island people were taken to Germany in 1882–83. The sole survivor was Bonangera (Boni/Bonny) whose life-size plaster cast remains at the Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France. The silencing that Badtjala people continue to endure in the localised historiography of place is ongoing.’
Dr Fiona Foley, Badtjala artist and academic
Fraser Island, 1882. The population of the Badtjala people is in sharp decline following a run of brutal massacres. When German scientist Louis Müller offers to sail three Badtjala people – Bonny, Jurano and Dorondera – to Europe to perform to huge crowds, the proud and headstrong Bonny agrees, hoping to bring his people’s plight to the Queen of England.
Accompanied by Müllers bright, grieving daughter, Hilda, the group begins their journey to belle-époque Europe to perfom in Hamburg, Berlin, Paris and eventually London. While crowds in Europe are enthusiastic to see the unique dances, singing, fights and pole climbing from the oldest culture in the world, the attention is relentless, and the fascination of scientists intrusive. When disaster strikes, Bonny must find a way to return home.
A story of love, bravery, culture, and the fight against injustice, Paris Savages brings a little-known part of history to blazing life, from award-winning novelist Katherine Johnson.
Paris Savages is a powerful narrative told with quiet intensity and unfolding passion. Katherine Johnson moves between the beautiful and the horrific with unforgettable expression. A masterpiece traversing fiction with epic insight.
A powerful and sobering read
A masterful work; fully realised and richly embroidered. Johnson is a novelist of ferocious elegance and unusual sensitivity.
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